Sam Whitelock to play 100th Test; Retallick and Read return
The All Blacks team has been named to play Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup Test of the Investec Rugby Championship at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday 18 August, with lock Sam Whitelock to bring up his century of Tests.
The matchday 23 is as follows (with Test caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (34)
2. Codie Taylor (32)
3. Owen Franks (98)
4. Brodie Retallick (68)
5. Samuel Whitelock (99)
6. Liam Squire (17)
7. Sam Cane (55)
8. Kieran Read – captain (109)
9. Aaron Smith (74)
10. Beauden Barrett (64)
11. Rieko Ioane (16)
12. Ryan Crotty (37)
13. Jack Goodhue (1)
14. Waisake Naholo (19)
15. Ben Smith (67)
16. Nathan Harris (13)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (3)
18. Ofa Tuungafasi (17)
19. Scott Barrett (19)
20. Ardie Savea (25)
21. TJ Perenara (45)
22. Damian McKenzie (15)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (24)
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We’re all excited at what is shaping up to be another classic Bledisloe Cup encounter here in Sydney on Saturday night.
“We know that we have to earn the right to perform by preparing well and taking each moment that arises, and that mindset has been reflected in our preparation this week, which has been very good.
“The Bledisloe means a lot to this team and we have the opportunity to show just how much on Saturday night. As far as we’re concerned, neither team currently has possession of the Cup and if we want it, we’ve got to front up and take it.”
Hansen further added: “On behalf of the team, we want to congratulate Sammy on what will be a very special night for him and his family. We’re all very proud of him. He’s been an outstanding contributor to this team for a long time, both on and off the field. To play one Test for the All Blacks is an achievement in itself, but to be good enough to be selected and play 100 Tests is a remarkable feat. In doing so, he will join what is a small group of very special All Blacks.”
Hansen also added: “It’s also great to have Brodie and Kieran back after their lengthy absences. They both bring special qualities to the team and we look forward to seeing them produce that again in the black jersey.”
* 29-year-old Whitelock becomes just the eighth All Black and the first lock in the team’s century-plus history to play 100 Tests, and follows Captain Kieran Read, who reached the milestone last year. Whitelock knows his Australian opponents well – he will be playing his 25th Test against the Wallabies on Saturday.
* The list of All Blacks centurions which Whitelock will join on Saturday is as follows: Richie McCaw (148, 2001-2015), Keven Mealamu (132, 2002 – 2015), Tony Woodcock (118, 2002 – 2015), Daniel Carter (112, 2003 – 2015), Kieran Read (109, 2008 – ), Ma’a Nonu (103, 2003 – 2015) and Mils Muliaina (100, 2003 – 2011).
* The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, while the team’s overall record against Australia is: played 161, won 111, lost 43, drew 7. The All Blacks lost 23-18 the last time the teams meet, in the third Bledisloe Cup clash in Brisbane last October.
* Whitelock and Retallick will be starting their 47th Test as a locking partnership. Ahead of them on 49 are Robin Brooke and Ian Jones. Meanwhile, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett have started 26 Test matches together for the All Blacks, second only to Justin Marshall and Andrew Mehrtens.
* Smith will also make his 71st start as the All Black halfback – not far behind Marshall’s 74.
* Beauden Barrett is the fourth highest points scorer in All Blacks history (behind Carter, Mehrtens and Fox) on 482 points, so 500 points is on the horizon. Barrett, Mehrtens and Fox have all kicked 21 conversions against Australia – so his next conversion will put him in second place by himself behind Carter, who kicked 48 conversions against the Aussies.
The Investec Rugby Championship
1. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 18 August, 7.45PM, ANZ Stadium, SYDNEY
2. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 25 August, 7.35PM, Eden Park, AUCKLAND
3. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 8 September, 7.35PM, Trafalgar Park, NELSON
4. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 15 Sept, 7.35PM, Westpac Stadium, WELLINGTON
5. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 29 September, 7.40PM, Jose Amalfitani Stadium
(Estadio Velez Sarsfield), BUENOS AIRES
6. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 6 October, 5.05PM, Loftus Versfeld, PRETORIA