Rieko Ioane relishing another chance to play on Eden Park

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The ground was the second-best in Auckland after the Auckland Grammar No.1 ground, he said. But he couldn't remember when he last played in a Test there.

"I haven't played there in a while, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. I have some special memories on that field, so it is going to be a special challenge come Saturday," he said.

For the record, having made his Test debut at the ground against the British & Irish Lions, and scoring two tries, his only other Test there was in 2018 against France, when he also scored two tries.

Since then, players like Waisake Naholo, George Bridge and Caleb Clarke have filled the No11 jersey in Tests at the ground.

And while Ioane has concentrated on developing his skills at centre in the last two seasons, he was looking forward to being back on the wing on Saturday.

Ioane said he had enjoyed coming off the bench to play on the wing in the second Test against Fiji in Hamilton, and it wasn't a big adjustment changing from centre to wing.

He knew from his time at centre what he wanted his wings to do so, he knew what centre Anton Lienert-Brown would require of him on Saturday. And it was just about having a good connection with him.

First five-eighths Richie Mo'unga said playing Australia was one thing, but with the Bledisloe Cup on the line, it was something that meant a lot to both teams.

"The last couple of years I've only really come to understand how important it is to the All Blacks and Australia and it is a privilege to be part of the occasion," he said.

They were also aware the game was halfback Aaron Smith's 100th Test, so that made the first game in the series special.

Mo'unga said it was no surprise that Smith had achieved the milestone because he was such a disciplined performer.

"He just has one gear and it is all go every day of the week and he strives to be great and he is such a great role model for us," he said.

Having Crusaders teammate David Havili outside him at second five-eighths was special because he knew what he had been through to return to the side. His form had been amazing, and he repeated what he had said before that Havili was like his little brother.

"A goal of ours was to both get into the team, and to make thost 10-12 jerseys ours as well," he said.


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