Australia, New Zealand make changes for 4th Bledisloe test

With the Bledisloe Cup secure for the 18th-straight year, New Zealand has made seven personnel and one positional change to its starting lineup for Saturday’s Tri-Nations test against Australia at Brisbane.

Backrower Akira Ioane will make his test debut on the blindside flank while hooker Asafo Aumua, backrower Cullen Grace and utility back Will Jordan are set for debuts from the bench.

The All Blacks beat the Wallabies 43-5 last weekend to take an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the four-test Bledisloe Cup series, ensuring Australia continues a Trans-Tasman drought which stretches back to 2002. The match also gave New Zealand a winning start to the Tri-Nations series involving Australia and Argentina.

Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf for the first time this season, moving from fullback to take over from Richie Mo’unga in a reshaped All Blacks backline. Powerhouse Ngani Laumape has been named at inside center and will combine in midfield with Anton Lienert-Brown.

Rieko Ioane will play on the left wing, likely ending the experiment of turning him into a center this season. Sevu Reece will start on the right wing, pushing Jordie Barrett back to his preferred position of fullback. T.J. Perenara takes over from Aaron Smith at scrumhalf.

Among the forwards, Codie Taylor has been promoted from the bench to start at hooker and lock Scott Barrett similarly moves from the reserves to the starting lineup, joining is Crusaders partner Sam Whitelock. His elevation means the three Barrett brothers are all in the starting XV. Akira Ioane will combine with captain Sam Cane and Ardie Savea in the backrow.

Aumua, Grace and Jordan have been named on a refreshed bench along with scrumhalf Brad Weber and Damian McKenzie, who covers flyhalf and fullback.

“We’ve been really delighted with the whole squad so we feel that there are some players who are really putting their hand up and deserve an opportunity,” head coach Ian Foster said. “Secondly, it’s been a big three-week test series to date against Australia. It’ll be another massive test so we’ve brought in some freshness and new energy into the group. Players are jumping out of their skins to get onto the park.”

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie also sprang several surprises, selecting Reece Hodge to start at flyhalf at Suncorp Stadium and including two players on test debut. Hodge takes over from Noah Lolesio, who had a difficult test debut in last weekend’s loss in Sydney when he took over from the injured James O’Connor.

The veteran O’Connor will again sit out the match because of a knee injury.

Hunter Paisami takes over at inside center from Irae Simone, who also made his test debut in Sydney.

Tom Banks returns at fullback in place of Dane Haylett-Perry, and his ACT Brumbies teammate Tom Wright will make his debut on the right wing, replacing Filipo Daugunu.

Lock Rob Simmons, who made a strong impact from the bench in Sydney, joins the starting lineup in place of the injured Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. Lachie Swinton will make his debut on the blindside flank in the only other change to the forward pack.

Prop James Slipper on Saturday will become the 13th Australian to play 100 tests.

“It’s going to be a really special night for James in front of his family and friends back at his home ground and I know the team will be doing everything they can to make sure it’s a memorable result,” Rennie said. “Lachlan, Tom and Angus have been excellent over the past seven weeks and have earned their first jersey for Australia.

“As a whole group we were really disappointed after last weekend and we get a chance to show our character on Saturday in Brisbane.”



Australia: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Nic White; Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (captain), Lachie Swinton, Matt Philip, Rob Simmons, Allan Alaalatoa, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper. Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Ned Hanigan, Liam Wright, Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, T.J. Perenara; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (captain), Akira Ioane, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ofa Tuungafasi, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu’inukuafe. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Cullen Grace, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan.


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