All Blacks make changes after last week's defeat to the Wallabies

18 Août, 2019, 10:28 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Ben Smith runs the ball up for the All Blacks against the Wallabies in Perth last weekend

Heading into an action-packed weekend of Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, four nations could claim top spot in the men's World Rugby Rankings, two of them for the first time in history.

The Wallabies have announced only one change to their starting side.

Sonny Bill Williams is straight back to second-five following his two full games for Counties in the Mitre 10 Cup, with Anton Lienert-Brown, one of the few impressive performers for the All Blacks in Perth along with Beauden Barrett, moving out one to centre as a replacement for Jack Goodhue, who has a hamstring strain.

Wingers Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane, along with centurion prop Owen Franks, were dumped from New Zealand's 23 in a dramatic overhaul for Saturday's return Test at Eden Park.

Hansen has been accused of panicking by introducing New Zealand's least experienced wing combination in almost 20 years while dispensing with Smith and Ioane, at different times regarded as the world's premier outside backs.

He also hosed down suggestions the World Cup selection chances of Smith and Ioane have taken a hit.

Also missing from the squad this week is 108-cap prop Owen Franks, who has been replaced by Chiefs tighthead Nepo Laulala. It leaves New Zealand with their least-experienced wing combination since Doug Howlett and Bruce Reihana started a Test against France in Marseilles 19 years ago.

Fiji-born Reece, 22, was the brightest light in Super Rugby this year, thrilling with his electric running on the way to a competition-high 15 tries in his rookie season.

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With three minutes left, Bridge - on his first Test start - added the cherry to an already healthy cake when Savea turned the ball over in the Wallabies 22, allowing possession to be shipped out to the left, with Anton Lienert-Brown offloading to the Crusaders wing, who checked inside to finish. Crusaders teammate Bridge's three caps have all come off the bench, including two tries on debut against Japan a year ago.

"But that's only hiding from the fact that we haven't had it for a while and we are going to do our best to play well and get hold of the trophy, obviously". "While Rico and Bender [Smith] are world-class players, we think these boys are capable of being world class players too".

Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons mocked the All Blacks as "old and slow" Friday just days after a Sydney tabloid labelled them "senior citizens", stirring the pot ahead of a crunch Bledisloe Cup clash.

Hansen did not mince his words when asked if the trio had been dropped. "There's a lot of pride in the team".

"They've got to put more attention on us and things like that do change a game".

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Reece Hodge, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (captain), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio.

"I don't think it's a risk and there's lots of reward in it", said Hansen, after opting for the relatively raw talent of Nepo Laulala (18 Tests), George Bridge (three) and Sevu Reece (one).

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