Sydney - Australia aim to make a flying start against the
All Blacks in Sydney this weekend and kick-start their quest to end New
Zealand's 15 years of Bledisloe Cup domination, captain Michael Hooper said.
The Wallabies head into Saturday's fixture, which also
doubles as the Rugby Championship opener, as underdogs after failing to win the
trophy since 2002.
The hosts have started the three-Test series poorly in
recent years but Hooper said the Wallabies were fired-up and ready to show they
are a team on the rise against the world champions.
"I'm going to come out all guns blazing," he told
"We're ready, we're good to go... bring it on."
Sydney has been a happy hunting ground for the New
Zealanders in recent years, defeating Australia 42-8 in 2016 and 54-34 last
"We owe the Sydney crowd something," said utility
back Matt Toomua, who will start on the bench.
"Unfortunately we haven't done well here in a little
while, so it's time to give them something to cheer about."
The Wallabies will take heart from their 23-18 win over the
All Blacks in the final Bledisloe Test in Brisbane last October, which followed
a narrow 35-29 loss in Dunedin two months earlier.
While Australia have not won back-to-back Test matches
against New Zealand since 2001, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insists they
deserve to be favourites on the back of the Brisbane win.
"I think Australia are a better side than people give
them credit for," he said, predicting "a good gutsy Test match".
"They've improved a heck of a lot. They've done a lot
of hard work on their running lines and their core set-piece roles, their scrum
has got better and they've quickened up their line-out a lot."
Hansen said Australia were better prepared that their
previous two Sydney outings after warming up with a trial match earlier this
"I think it's a smart play. They'll be hoping they get out
of the blocks a lot quicker," he said.
Cheika has been forced to throw loose-head prop Tom
Robertson into the fray for just his third Test start after Scott Sio hurt his
He has also gambled on moving Reece Hodge into the centres
after injuries to Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi, created an untested
partnership with Kurtley Beale.
Hooper and wing Dane Haylett-Petty both passed fitness
tests, with the skipper dismissing suggestions he could be rusty after being
sidelined for more than a month.
"I'm feeling great about what I do and I think I can
make a difference in the game," he said.
The Wallabies also have inspirational flank David Pocock
contesting the breakdown after missing last year's Bledisloe while on
The All Blacks have introduced their own rookie centre by
calling up Jack Goodhue after injury ruled out Sonny Bill Williams.
But Goodhue will be playing alongside Crusaders team-mate
Ryan Crotty in an established centres partnership that help win this year's
Super Rugby title.
Hansen described the combination as "rock-solid"
and did not expect Goodhue to be overawed in his second Test appearance.
Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick, who missed the series
against France in June, return to the side with Read resuming the captaincy.
The New Zealanders will have added motivation when Sam
Whitelock earns his 100th Test cap, the first All Black lock to reach the
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Jack Maddocks
15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Tim Perry, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown