Wallabies out to end 14 years of All Black pain

2016-08-18 11:21
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)

Sydney - Australia will set out to overturn 14 years of All Blacks torment when they open their Rugby Championship title defence against their New Zealand nemesis in Sydney on Saturday.

The Wallabies have won just one of their last 13 encounters with the world champions and have not held the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup since 2002 against the dominant All Blacks.

Australia thought the chance of finally mastering the Kiwi powerhouse had arrived following the retirement of legends Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter, but New Zealand will again start favourites after tossing aside Wales 3-0 in their home series last June.

In contrast, the Wallabies were second best to Six Nations champions England in a three-Test home series and including last year's World Cup final defeat to the All Blacks have lost their last four internationals.

Coach Michael Cheika, who has bolstered his side with three overseas-based stars, says the All Blacks rate the Wallabies as having no chance of winning.

"We know they think we're no chance to do anything and they're validated, I suppose, we haven't beaten them for ages in the series so it's understandable that they would think that," Cheika said.

But under Cheika the Wallabies won the corresponding Rugby Championship Test 27-19 in Sydney last year on the way to claiming the tournament, which also includes South Africa and Argentina.

Cheika has included France-based trio Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Will Genia, while making a key change in the forwards with Ben McCalman preferred at blindside flanker to Scott Fardy.

Winger Ashley-Cooper, centre Giteau and scrumhalf Genia, with 282 Test experience between them, along with World Cup lock Kane Douglas return after missing the home series 3-0 loss to Eddie Jones's England a few months back.

"I've made those selections because I think they'll add to the type of game that we'll play on Saturday," Cheika said.

"Fardy has been in the team for a fair while now and Ben's been putting pressure on at different times and every time he steps out to play for Australia. He's earned the opportunity."

Counterpart Steve Hansen selected Beauden Barrett over Aaron Cruden at flyhalf in the first meeting between the two southern hemisphere rivals since the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 34-17 in the World Cup final at Twickenham last October.

Cruden started in the first two Tests against Wales in June before Barrett took over for the third Test and then guided the Wellington Hurricanes to their first Super Rugby crown to win the nod for the All Blacks' most contested position.

Flank Sam Cane has been cleared to play after suffering concussion late in the Super Rugby season but hooker Dane Coles remains sidelined with a rib injury.

"This Test match will be another stepping stone in the re-establishment of this group on the international stage and we know that Australia will throw everything at us, which is what Test rugby is all about," Hansen said.

"With more than 800 Test caps of experience in our match day 23, I'm confident we have the experience to deal with the challenge.

"We're also playing for the Bledisloe Cup, which after the Rugby World Cup, is probably the most important trophy we play for. Both teams will be desperate to get their hands on it which will create added pressure."


All Blacks

15. Israel Dagg, 14. Ben Smith, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Waisake Naholo, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read (captain), 7. Sam Cane, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Nathan Harris, 1. Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16. Codie Taylor, 17 Kane Hames, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Aaron Cruden, 23. Julian Savea


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Ala’alatoa, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Rob Horne


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