All Blacks team named for opening Bledisloe Cup clash

Aug 5 • General News, International, The Rugby Championship • 3066 Views • Comments Off on All Blacks team named for opening Bledisloe Cup clash

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ilner-The All Blacks side to play Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup and Investec Rugby Championship-deciding Test against Australia at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday 8 August has been named, with outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder to make his Test debut.

The team is: (with Test caps in brackets. New All Blacks in bold)

Starting XV:

1.Tony Woodcock (113)
2. Dane Coles (28)
3. Owen Franks (70)
4. Brodie Retallick (39)
5. Luke Romano (19)
6. Jerome Kaino (58)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (140)
8. Kieran Read (75)
9. Aaron Smith (39)
10. Daniel Carter (104)
11. Julian Savea (33)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (25)
13. Conrad Smith (86)
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder
15. Ben Smith (39)

16. Codie Taylor (2)
17. Ben Franks (42)
18. Nepo Laulala (2)
19. Samuel Whitelock (64)
20. Sam Cane (22)
21. TJ Perenara (13)
22. Beauden Barrett (29)
23. Malakai Fekitoa (9)
24-year-old Milner-Skudder will make his Test debut on the right wing. He is one of a number of changes to the All Blacks side which beat South Africa in Johannesburg last week. Julian Savea is back on the left wing and will play his first Test of 2015, with Ben Smith moving to fullback. Sonny Bill Williams is at 12, while Daniel Carter is back at first five-eighth for his 105th Test match. In the run-on forward pack, Jerome Kaino comes in at blindside flanker while Luke Romano comes in at lock. There are just two changes to the bench, with Nepo Laulala providing tighthead prop cover and Sam Cane coming in to cover the loose forwards.

With three All Blacks centurions amongst them, the All Blacks starting XV boasts 868 Test caps experience with a further 183 on the bench, with an average age of 27.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the team had prepared well this week for the opening Bledisloe Cup Test.

“The Bledisloe Cup is an important trophy for New Zealand rugby and for this team, and Australia is one of our oldest opponents. We are well aware that they have made improvements and that their coach Cheika wants them to be more physical and more consistent.

“Having said that, we are always looking to improve our game and understand that we will have to take a step up from our Ellis Park performance. This means we will need to bring physicality, intensity and accuracy to the occasion. I am picking this to be a brutal contest, and one we are looking forward to. It will be about us implementing our gameplan and skillsets for 80-plus minutes.”

Key points of interest

The All Blacks and Australia have played each other 152 times in their storied history, with the All Blacks winning 104 times and the Wallabies 41, with seven draws. The last match between the two sides saw the All Blacks win a tight tussle 29-28 in Brisbane last October.
Daniel Carter, world rugby’s leading international points scorer, is nine points away from scoring 1,500 Test points. With the All Blacks 27 points scored last week, the team has now scored more than 14,000 points in its history and is currently sitting on 14,012 points. Carter has scored ten percent of that total.
Richie McCaw will this weekend equal Brian O’Driscoll’s world record of 141 international Test appearances. Interestingly, McCaw’s 140 Tests include just 14 losses (exactly ten percent).
McCaw has scored 17 tries in The Rugby Championship / Tri Nations history and currently sits one behind South African winger Bryan Habana on the list of all-time try scorers in the tournament.
Three All Blacks will play their 40th Tests this weekend: Brodie Retallick and the Smiths, Aaron and Ben.
Nehe Milner-Skudder – mini biography

Position: Outside back
Height: 1.82m
Weight: 90kg
Born: 15 December 1990 in Taihape
Super Rugby team and debut: Hurricanes, 2014
Province: Manawatu
Nehe Milner-Skudder is a brilliant attacking runner who has matured into an outstanding player in recent years. One of the form fullbacks of the 2014 ITM Cup, Milner-Skudder also played for the Māori All Blacks last year and made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes this year. Milner-Skudder’s skills and speed in the Super season earned him comparisons with Hurricanes legend – and his childhood idol – Christian Cullen. Milner-Skudder has a devastating sidestep, honed on the touch field, a sport in which he represented New Zealand. Milner-Skudder has two All Blacks relatives: his cousin Buff Milner and uncle George Skudder each played a Test in 1969 and 1970 respectively.

Meanwhile, the following All Blacks squad members have been released to play pre-season ITM Cup matches for their respective provinces this week: Jeremy Thrush (for Wellington against Tasman in Blenheim today, Thursday); Colin Slade, Matt Todd and Patrick Osborne (for Canterbury v Counties-Manukau, Pukekohe, tomorrow Friday 7 August); and James Broadhurst (for Taranaki v Hawke’s Bay, Napier, Saturday 8 August). Others not travelling to Sydney include Charlie Faumuina, Ma’a Nonu, Cory Jane, Charles Piutau and Keven Mealamu.

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