All Blacks side to play Australia in the Bledisloe Cup decider against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday 15 August has been named.

The team is: (with Test caps in brackets)

Starting XV:
1. Tony Woodcock (114)
2. Dane Coles (29)
3. Owen Franks (71)
4. Brodie Retallick (20)
5. Samuel Whitelock (65)
6. Victor Vito (27)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (141)
8. Kieran Read (76)
9. Aaron Smith (40)
10. Daniel Carter (105)
11. Julian Savea (34)
12. Ma’a Nonu (96)
13. Conrad Smith (87)
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder (1)
15. Ben Smith (40)

Reserves:
16. Keven Mealamu (125)
17. Wyatt Crockett (39)
18. Nepo Laulala (3)
19. Jerome Kaino (59)
20. Sam Cane (23)
21. TJ Perenara (14)
22. Colin Slade (19)
23. Malakai Fekitoa (10)

The All Blacks selectors have made just three changes to the starting XV which started last week’s opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney: Ma’a Nonu returns for the injured Sonny Bill Williams, lock Samuel Whitelock comes in off the bench for Luke Romano, while Victor Vito comes in for Jerome Kaino, who moves to the bench.

Joining Kaino in a slightly rejigged reserves bench is hooker Keven Mealamu and prop Wyatt Crockett, in for Codie Taylor and Ben Franks respectively, while Colin Slade comes in for Beauden Barrett in the only back reserves change.
The All Blacks side will again be captained by All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who will break the world record for most Test matches this weekend in his 142nd Test.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This game is one of the best challenges we could have. We pride ourselves on our performance and last week’s wasn’t good enough, so we have been working hard at all areas of our game. We know we have to be smarter, more accurate and bring more intensity right across the park.

“It’s also our last Test match in New Zealand for the year, so it’s important that we deliver a performance that we can be proud of in front of our home fans.”

“Finally, I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and the All Blacks to publicly acknowledge Richie’s achievement in becoming the most capped Test player in the history of the game. His performances week in, week out in the black jersey have been nothing short of extraordinary.”

Key points of interest

* The All Blacks and Australia have played each other 153 times, with the All Blacks winning 104 times and the Wallabies 42, with seven draws.
* Daniel Carter will start his 88th Test match at first five eighths to equal the world record holder, Steven Jones of Wales. Carter also surpassed the 1,500 Test points milestone last weekend.
* In last weekend’s Test, Nehe Milner-Skudder became the first All Black to score two tries on a Test debut against Australia since Bruce Watt in 1962. * The All Blacks team has an average age of 27.

Meanwhile, the following All Blacks squad members have been released to play for their respective provincial unions in the opening round of the ITM Cup this weekend: Cory Jane and James Broadhurst (Wellington v Taranaki on Saturday); and Matt Todd and Patrick Osborne (Canterbury v Otago).

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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