Their brazen confidence follows Australia stunning the world
champions 47-26 in Perth last weekend, although the New Zealanders were a
man down for the entire second half after lock Scott Barrett was sent
FitzSimons, now a media commentator, said the Wallabies “simply outclassed the All Blacks” in the record win.
“They humiliated those poor All Blacks and it was good for rugby,” he said on Newstalk ZB radio.
The scale of the defeat raised questions about whether New Zealand’s
dominance was at an end, and about the wisdom of relying on players aged
“Sonny Bill Williams is 34, how’s Sonny Bill going to go up against
James O’Connor?” FitzSimons said. “The All Blacks just looked a bit old
Earlier this week, the Sydney Daily Telegraph poked fun at the “Old
Blacks” by manipulating photos of Williams, skipper Kieran Read (33) and
Sam Whitelock (30) to make them look like elderly men.
Williams responded by saying he had faith in the senior players to
win the match in Auckland and retain the annual Bledisloe Cup, which
Australia have not won since 2002.
“Australia are coming, we know that, but we’re hungry to keep that Bledisloe as well – so don’t forget that,” he said.
In response to the Perth defeat, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen
dumped three veterans – prop Owen Franks and wings Ben Smith and Rieko
Ioane, who have a combined total of 213 Test caps.
“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).
Even against a New Zealand team built around over 30s, Australia face a huge task in Auckland on Saturday.
They have not tasted victory since 1986 at Eden Park, where the All Blacks are on a 42-match unbeaten streak.
Saturday’s Test is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).
Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill
Williams, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran
Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick
Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Jackson
Hemopo, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Jordie
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika
Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael
Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan
Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob
Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Adam Ashley-Cooper