Bledisloe 1 Preview: Wallabies v All Blacks - Green and Gold Rugby
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Bledisloe 1 Preview: Wallabies v All Blacks

Bledisloe 1 Preview: Wallabies v All Blacks

A lot has changed in the 12 months since the Wallabies played their last test – a crushing World Cup Quarterfinal defeat to England in Oita, Japan.

Words like “Social distancing.” And “Tik Tok” are now a part of our vocabularies, Carole Baskin is somehow a household name, and hand sanitiser has become a part of everyday life.

2020 has not been all bad, one bright spot has been the drought that crippled the East Coast of Australia for the best part of five years has broken, with bumper crops and green pastures now seen all the way  from Ballarat to Dalby.

One drought over, one more to go.

On Sunday afternoon the Wallabies kick their 2020 season off when they begin their search for greener pastures and attempt to break a 17-year Bledisloe curse. Has 2020 got one final surprise up its sleeve?

On the Rugby front, the last 12 months have also been filled with significant change.

It started when England flipped the script on the world order by outsmarting the All Blacks in the Semi-Finals of RWC 2019, only for South Africa to do the same to them a week later and ensure the Webb Ellis trophy returned to the rainbow nation.

Closer to home, it has been somewhat of a dawning of a new age for Australian Rugby. We have a new administration, a new domestic only Super Rugby competition, and perhaps most importantly a new coach and coaching staff have taken over the reins of the Wallabies. All these factors have helped to bring in a renewed sense of optimism in the national team.

This reinvigorated Wallaby set up, under the guidance of new coach Dave Rennie, now faces its first test. There are no home June internationals against a tired Northern Hemisphere rival or a depleted Pacific Island side for Rennie to ease himself into life as an international head coach. Instead, less than 20 km from where the New Zealander turned Australian Rugby saviour was born and raised, Rennie will start his journey as Wallabies coach against a fire-up All Blacks side eager to also put 2019 behind them.

Wallabies Coach Dave Rennie will be making his home in Queensland

In Rennie we trust…for now

Team Analysis

True to his word, Dave Rennie has picked his side on form and subsequently it looks like the most balanced Wallabies XV in some time. Only two men remain in the starting side from the fateful night in Oita – skipper Micheal Hooper and reigning John Eales medallist, Marika Korobiete. Three debutants have been named for their first international caps, with a 4th, Noah Lolesio, potentially in line for a debut off the bench.

Super Rugby AU player of the season, Taniela Tupou gets the nod to start at tighthead prop and will pack down with Brumbies Folau Faingaa and James Slipper. After an impressive Super Rugby season, Matt Phillip returns to the international fold for his first test since 2017 paired with Lukhan Salakai-Loto in the second row. It is a special night for both flankers. Boom 20-year-old Harry Wilson has been picked for his first test at blindside flanker and on the opposite side of the scrum, the Micheal Hooper will lead his side out for his 100 test match. Pete Samu deservedly gets the nod at number 8 for what will be his first test in over two years.

It is a similar mix of youth and experience in the backs. Thirty year old’s Nic White and James O’Connor are back playing in Australia and are paired in the halves for the first time. Unfortunately Jordan Petaia was unable to recover from injury in time to Rennie has opted for the hard-hitting centre pairing featuring vice-captain Matt Toomua and the second debutant on the team sheet Hunter Paisami. The back three is filled with genuine pace, Filipo Daugunu starts on the right-wing in his test debut, while fellow Fijian flyer Korobiete predictably gets the nod on the left. Tom Banks will start as the custodian at the back with Dane Haylett-Petty also ruled out with injury.

Ian Foster’s first test XV features nine players from the Semi-final loss to England. It’s an experienced front row with Joe Moody and Ofa Tuungafasi the props and test match number 50 for Codie Taylor who was named at hooker. With Brodie Retallick off on a year sabbatical in Japan, Patrick Tuipulotu gets the nod to partner Sam Whitelock in the second row. Sam Cane’s stint as fulltime captain begins with the Chief’s workhorse named at openside flanker shifting Ardie Savea to the back of the scrum. Shannon Frizell has been named at blindside flanker following an impressive Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign with the Highlanders.

As expected, Foster has stuck with the controversial two playmaker system naming Richie Mo’unga at 10 and Beauden Barrett at 15. Aaron Smith will start his 93rd test at halfback with Jack Goodhue and Rieko Ioane forming an explosive centre pairing. The ever-reliable George Bridge gets the nod on the left wing with perhaps the most surprising selection from Foster – Jordie Barrett named on the right. Three debutants have been called onto the bench lock Tupou Vaa’i, loose forward Hoskins Sotutu and winger Caleb Clarke.

Harry Wilson gets his revenge

Harry Wilson plays hard



1 James Slipper
2 Folau Fainga’a
3 Taniela Tupou
4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
5 Matt Philip
6 Harry Wilson
7 Michael Hooper [c]
8 Pete Samu

9 Nic White
10 James O’Connor
11 Marika Koroibete
12 Matt To’omua
13 Hunter Paisami
14 Filipo Daugunu
15 Tom Banks

16 Jordan Uelese
17 Scott Sio
18 Allan Alaalatoa
19 Rob Simmons
20 Rob Valetini
21 Jake Gordon
22 Noah Lolesio
23 Reece Hodge


1 Joe Moody
2 Codie Taylor
3. Ofa Tuungafasi
4. Patrick Tuipulotu
5. Samuel Whitelock
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Sam Cane [c]
8. Ardie Savea

9. Aaron Smith
10. Richie Mo’unga
11. George Bridge
12. Jack Goodhue
13. Rieko Ioane
14. Jordie Barrett
15. Beauden Barrett

16. Dane Coles
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe
18. Nepo Laulala
19. Tupou Vaa’i
20. Hoskins Sotutu
21. TJ Perenara
22. Anton Lienert-Brown
23. Caleb Clarke


Kick off: Sky Stadium Wellington, Sunday 11 October 2:00pm AEDT
Referee: Paul Williams
AR1: Ben O’Keefe
AR2: Angus Gardner
TMO: Mike Fraser

Key Match-up 

Michael Hooper 

Michael Hooper – Centurion

Sam Cane vs Micheal Hooper. 

With so many selection dilemmas for both sides there are many intriguing one-on-one battles on Sunday afternoon, but you can’t go past the constants on the side of the scrum as the crucial match-up in this one.

It’s hard to argue that any two players worldwide possess the consistency and toughness of the two respective skippers.

It is set to be a momentous occasion for Micheal Hooper who becomes the youngest ever player to notch 100 tests. Being named captain at the tender age of 22 is testament to his leadership qualities, and he was the obvious choice to continue captaining the national side under Rennie. He will go down as one of our most celebrated Wallabies but for all the John Eales Medals and Matt Burke Cups Hooper has racked up, there is no doubt the boy from Manly would trade them all to be the first Australian to lift the Bledisloe cup since 2002. With the second test confirmed for Eden Park next week, a venue Australia haven’t won at since 1986, the Wallabies must get off to a flyer in Wellington on Sunday, and a lot rests on the sizable shoulders of their captain.

By the same token, Sam Cane will be desperate to ensure his reign as All Blacks captain does not start by relinquishing their unprecedented hold on the oversized trophy. Cane was somewhat of a controversial captaincy selection from Ian Foster and the All Blacks management. Whilst his leadership qualities cannot be denied, it was whether or not he was a definite starter that had people questioning if perhaps Foster should have instead turned to someone like Sam Whitelock. Afterall Cane came off the bench when the All Blacks were trounced by England last start. Foster has been able to accommodate Cane’s most prominent challenger, Ardie Savea, in the starting XV by shifting the Hurricanes enforcer to number 8., Cane will be out to prove the doubters wrong and put the misery of 2019 behind him when he leads his troops onto Sky Stadium on Sunday afternoon

Bold Prediction

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

All Blacks – still favorites (Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes)

You have to go right back to 2001 to find the last time the All Blacks and Wallabies played a day time Test on New Zealand soil; coincidentally this was also the last time the Wallabies defeated the All Blacks in New Zealand winning 23-15 in Dunedin.

Make no mistake, despite all the changes since the World Cup this is a good Wallabies side and the well-balanced nature of the run on team will be a welcome sight to Australian fans. The forward pack can boast a rock-solid scrum, four genuine lineout options and eight bodies that can bend the New Zealand defensive line. The backs will be led by an experienced halves pairing and possess some genuine game-breakers out wide. There is undoubtedly the ability there for the men in gold to pull off one of the more unlikely of victories. However a lack of cohesion will play against, and I expect the Wallabies performances will improve week on week throughout the Bledisloe series.

Still smiting from the hiding England inflicted upon them just under 12 months ago and having surrendered the world number 1 ranking to the Springboks the All Blacks have named an imposing, in-form side that will be out to make a statement. The home ground advantage and extra month of preparation also favours the hosts and whilst they will win, I expect they won’t have it all their own way come Sunday afternoon.

All Blacks by 9….


  • Bernie Chan

    Don’t like the chances but I hope the referumps are anonymous in the post game reviews…
    Got to love a Sunday arvo Test!

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Oliver, I don’t expect the two 7’s to actually compete head to head much as generally they don’t compete over the ball at the same time. I think the real battle will be between the tight 5 on both sides and it’ll be interesting to see how this goes and whether the coaches can bring out the mongrel without the over the top penalty receiving crap that Cheika used to try on. IN some ways I think NZ has over the years been too negative in the contact relying on speed of the ball to bypass it and as they found out against England this can be nullified. I’m hoping they’ve learnt that lesson and if they have then I’m pretty comfortable in expecting a positive result for me.

  • Simon

    I feel like the phrase “Dave Rennie has picked his side on form” just single-handedly condemns the entire post-2015 Cheika era – like it shouldn’t even need to be said, but it’s a novel concept for the Wallabies.

    Sportsbet are offering a start of 17.5 for the Wallabies. ABs have to be favourites but I think the Wallabies have the potential to take them all the way and make them fight hard for it. More generally I think we could see some upsets this Rugby Championship, with the Boks looking underdone and the general upheaval of the COVID era.

    • Like you, I suspect the men in black to win on Sunday, but I think the Boks will be there for taking, injuries permitting.

      • Simon

        Agreed, I didn’t watch the Boks’ Green vs Gold game but by all accounts it was a bit of a shambles. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see any game go either way – even the Pumas beating the ABs would surprise me less than it would any previous year. The year after a RWC is always a potential minefield for tippers with so much player and coach turnover, but this year it’s taken to another level with the COVID disruption to Super Rugby and the unknown effect of squad quarantines – plus the fact we’ll be playing test rugby in Australia into December, which is going to be incredibly energy-sapping. I bet the ABs are glad they got their December game changed!

        • Alister Smith

          It is going to be a relatively long and intense tournament too. So there is the possibility that coaches will look to rest players from some games and that might make a surprise result a little more …. less surprising

        • Simon

          Yes, and IIRC the squad size is larger than normal too, which increases the opportunity for rotation in the matchday 23.

          All in all, a fascinating Rugby Championship coming up.

      • Geoffro

        Deadline today whether SA will be participating.Reckon a good chance they wont come

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I don’t think they can afford not to come. Not sure on the make up of the team though. Might be a lot of newbies

        • Huw Tindall

          Yeah 100% they were coming, just like 100% there would be a solution agreed to the Kiwis christmas quarantine. None of the 4 uninos can afford for TRC not to go ahead.

        • laurence king

          Good for us hey

        • Geoffro

          Today was supposed to be their decision deadline but they’ve delayed agin till early next week.Maybe they’re waiting to see what they’re going to be up against :)

        • Ruth Hammel

          Google is paying $192 for every single hour….. Previous Monday I’ve got my first Mercedes-AMG right after getting my biggest payout of $35475 for a week..(6y54)… It seems un-believable but you won’t forgive yourself if you do not check it (Go to “Home” Option within it to get details)>>>>>>>>> ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::

  • Brumby Runner

    The Blacks going with Canvea at 7/8. Their very own version of the Pooper.

    Incidentally, Cane and Hooper go back to U20s in 2011 as opposing No 7s.

    • Geoffro

      Maybe the Kiwis think its SANE,I dont.Since 2011 Hooper has been by far the more consistent of the two (dont hold Cane in that high regard) Savea , another story

      • When Cane has a good game, I can see why he’s held in such high regard, I just don’t think he has them often enough. Whether that’s injuries or whatever, he just doesn’t deliver to anywhere near his potential often enough.

        I’m going to be really scared if he gets injured early, Savea moves to 7 and Sotutu comes on at 8 I think.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I agree. I think it’s his injuries more than anything else that causes him issues. Great when he’s on song but can go missing

        • Too Little Too Late

          I agree as well, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Cane yet

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I think Savea is a better 8 than Pocock ever was and unlike the Pooper Cane will play the 7 role and Savea the 8 rather than Pocock trying to do both while Hooper swanned off in the backline

  • Too Little Too Late

    Hi Oliver,
    I really enjoyed your opening spiel, it’s been a strange old year with constant change and surprises.
    With two new coaches and no exposure to the other team for a year it should be a no prisoners opening to the game / series . I think it might be a few games into the bled before we see these teams settle into their new shapes.
    Great to have any international footy kicking off and hats off to all the players, staff and the much maligned admin for bringing this together.
    As I say at the start of every year since the 26th of July 2003, could be our year, but to be honest I’m just very bloody happy to watch our boys go around.

  • I Should be Coach

    Does anyone know how to watch the game in the States.

    • Ant

      Yeah, I need to figure this out too…

    • Geoffro

      Streamed on ESPN,says you can subscribe for 5 bucks a month , or find a expat/rugby bar I spose (not much hope if you’re in the middle of Alabama or the likes)

      • Ant

        The only rugby ESPN+ seems to be showing this weekend is pro14 games (unless they update the schedule). And no chance in hell I’m heading to a bar in these plague lands (in the unlikely event of finding one nearby that was playing it). Damn!

        • Geoffro

          Can you use a VPN and stream it from 10Play here ?Have a squizz at this link

        • Ant

          Cheers for the link, will give it a look. I’ve not had much luck with using VPN for this in past, but I’m 100% that was all down to user error on my part. ;)

        • George Duke

          updated, it’s on

      • I Should be Coach

        Got it. Thx mate

    • Yowie

      I think you need to “root for” one of the teams.

      • Geoffro

        seems like slim chances of gaining viewership in the land of the free..more a case of “go root yer boot” response to expat rugger fans

      • Greg

        I really think we should let the Smith thing go….

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      RugbyPass should be available

      • Geoffro

        RugbyPass is not available in US.Maybe access it via vpn but as I posted elsewhere, with a link to a how to page, you may try to access 10play through a vpn.ESPN has some Rugby or NBC Gold but you have to sign up.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover


  • Larry Jorgensen

    Just on Tom Banks … when he kicks for touch, is anyone else reminded of a drunk trying to get the key in the door at 3 am?

    • Geoffro

      Shhhhh!. Don’t give our buds any chargedown hints

    • Alister Smith

      yes it is almost like the sobriety test you see in the US

  • Yowie

    hahaha that’s awesome.

    “I’ll do my best Mrs Mapleleaf”

  • Reds Revival

    I’m predicting a fairly tight first half, with lots of kicking by both teams as they play the territory game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 2 or 3 point difference at half time. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the teams to open up and take their chances with ball in hand.

    • Huw Tindall

      Think you’re bang on with your assessment mate. When you look at the 9/10/12 Rennie picked it’s definitely a strong kicking group. I’m fine with this as it’s a more reliable exit strategy and all the best teams do it but my god we need the kick chase to be good. In seasons past it’s been shithouse. The player catching the ball needs to be contested or at least taking an eye off the ball because a Wallaby is about to clobber him. Hopefully with Daugunu and Koroibete we’ve got the speed to pressure the kick receipt.

      • Geoffro

        Kick,chase yeah with no Beale useless random kicks or Foley popgun

  • Reds Revival

    Beauden Barrett is out of Game 1 with an Achilles injury. DMac has been brought in from outside the 23 as his replacement.
    I would have thought that they would move Jordie to fullback, and bring in Sevu Reece.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Well they do have depth everywhere!

    • laurence king

      Someone got him in the ankle with an arrow lol

  • I Should be Coach

    Thanks all for update on US viewership. ESPN just announced. Holy Shiite. A 10pm game live on a Saturday night. Balls to the walls.

    • Huw Tindall

      Just make sure you’re not too drunk by then! Crack the first can about 9pm to be safe.

      • I Should be Coach

        Good advice Huw. Thanks mate.

        • Huw Tindall

          No worries mate. Anytime. Tough for me as kick off is 4am. Too old to stay up and beers at 4am for breakfast are frowned upon. I still may.

  • I Should be Coach

    Mate so funny. When I first moved to the US they had Root Stores everywhere. Chicks walking around with Root hoodies everywhere. I used Kevvies pick up line a lot – got many a slap but a few …. as well.

  • laurence king

    It’s really irritating, I woke up this morning and was expecting to watch the game at 2, but then at 2 pm I found that the game was tomorrow. Ah retirement, not knowing what day it is, lol

  • Gilbert

    Anyone who knows a Kiwi that would like one of these… just in time for the game..

  • Greg

    There is an article in the SMH this morning asking if JOC 2.0 can make the most important jersey number his own today.

    I am looking forward to this. When he runs out in 3, I will know that he is serious about it!!

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