Rugby Championship

No Barrett as Sopoaga starts for All Blacks

2017-10-19 07:30
Lima Sopoaga (Gallo Images)

Brisbane - The All Blacks have decided not to risk flyhalf Beauden Barrett in Saturday's dead-rubber Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Brisbane, with Lima Sopoaga to start in the No 10 jersey.

Although Barrett was cleared of concussion after a head knock playing South Africa two weeks ago, he has suffered dizziness and headaches since.

His absence from the team named on Thursday offers Sopoaga only his second start in the pivotal position in what will be his 13th Test.

Damian McKenzie, whose eight Tests so far have primarily been at fullback, will provide cover for the No 10 jersey.

The only other change in the starting line-up sees the return of Waisake Naholo on the right wing for the injured Nehe Milner-Skudder.

There are two changes on the bench with TJ Perenara returning as the replacement scrumhalf and Anton Lienert-Brown providing additional back cover.

The All Blacks have already secured the Bledisloe Cup, winning the first two matches in the three-Test series against Australia, but coach Steve Hansen said there was still plenty to play for.

"Both teams have their own goals and expectations," he said.

"From Australia's point of view, they'll be desperate to win as they haven't done so for some time. For us, our goal is to never be satisfied at where we're at, and that means it's greater than just the outcome.

"It's about how we play, individually and collectively as a unit. We're always striving to get better every game and this week is no different."

The way has opened up for Sopoaga to stamp his mark on the No 10 jersey with the departure of Aaron Cruden to France after the Super Rugby campaign.

Although it will be a rare start for him, Sopoaga will be in familiar territory playing outside his Otago Highlanders team-mate and scrum-half Aaron Smith.

Matt Todd, who was not required at the start of the Rugby Championship campaign, keeps the reserve flanker role.

Patrick Tuipulotu remains as the lock cover with Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano unavailable for personal reasons.

Although the All Blacks have dominated Australia in recent years, Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium has been a difficult venue for the New Zealanders.

Of five matches there over the past 11 years, the All Blacks have lost one, drawn one, and won three but never by more than a four-point margin.

Teams:

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22  Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 David Havili

Read more on:    australia  |  all blacks  |  sam cane  |  rugby
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