All Blacks vs Wallabies: Bledisloe Cup game three

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It goes without saying that the All Blacks vs Wallabies didn’t play well in Dunedin on Saturday evening, that they were off their game — so it will go without saying, at least in this column.

No one offered up that excuse for the Wallabies a week earlier in Sydney. We, all of us, had seen only the upside of the Wallabies having had a full month to prepare for the All Blacks, while the New Zealanders still had their heads buried in Super Rugby.

We all saw the advantages of training time and overlooked the benefits of playing time. No one even considered that the All Blacks would come to ANZ Stadium match-hardened and mentally much sharper than the Australians and might overwhelm the Wallabies even before they had started to play.

There were, in fact, genuine reasons why the Wallabies struggled in Sydney but, frankly, we have all been so seduced by the All Blacks and their brilliance that we put their first-half flurry of tries down to their dazzling play, ­neglecting the wider picture that for the majority of Australian players, it was their first game since July 15 — read July 21 for the four Brumbies in the side.Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It gives a sense of the wider picture. It’s also explains why the least surprised person at the ­Wallabies revival was Steve ­Hansen, the All Blacks coach.Asked whether the ­Wallabies had turned a corner in Dunedin, Hansen responded by questioning whether there had been a corner to turn. He had ­always sensed that Australia had that kind of performance in them. The question is: why didn’t we?

Perhaps, amid all the dross, we hadn’t seen the spark of inspiration. We almost didn’t see it on Saturday night. Had Damian McKenzie’s pass 20 seconds into the game connected with Ben Smith instead of Israel Folau, then it would have been the All Blacks scoring in the first minute, not Australia. A blow like that, coming on top of all the blows inflicted in Sydney, might have sabotaged the Wallaby revival before it even began.

Thankfully, it didn’t because the rugby that resulted was enthralling and as marvellous as it was to watch the Wallabies on full attack, it was just as wonderful to watch the All Blacks desperately defend.

It wasn’t panic, as such, from the men in black as they scrambled back in cover but there were moments of disarray, instants of doubt. Inevitably, order was ­restored and the All Blacks ­finished the match as we always feared they would, but just for a few tantalising minutes we were given a glimpse of life free from the New Zealand yoke. We came to realise that we have been ­conditioned in the past to half a Wallabies performance, delivered by players who probably suspected they had far more within themselves but didn’t have a clue how to access it.

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Kurtley Beale had played 61 Tests before he ventured on to Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night and not in any of them has he performed as he did in Test No 62. His attack has always been exceptional, his defence conspicuously less so. But on Saturday, he owned Sonny Bill Williams. I can scarcely believe I have written that, but there was a moment when SBW flinched as Beale bore down on him.

We perhaps could join the ­chorus of NZ writers who have suggested that Williams was more affected than was supposed by that head whack he suffered in Sydney and that he should not have played. But he put his hand up to play, so on his head be it. It might happen only once or it might, instead, be the beginning of a trend. But on Saturday night in old Dunedin town, SBW was owned by KB.

And who would have suspected Sean McMahon could play as he did? Well, actually we all did. It’s just that we didn’t think that he could do it against the really big boys, against the All Blacks. We based this on exhaustive research, namely the Sydney Test when he played against NZ for the very first time and made no impression. So we marked him down on that score and wondered why on earth Cheika had selected him again at No 8. And then he showed us how and why we were wrong.

There were revelatory ­moments like this across the park. Will Genia hasn’t had a night like Saturday since July 9, 2011, when he teased and tantalised the ­Crusaders and held them at bay while he ran 60m for the matchwinning try in the Queensland Reds’ victory in the All Blacks vs Wallabies Live final. Less ostentatiously, Sekope Kepu had a night when he proved to himself he too has still got it. The Wallabies scrum was in ­desperate trouble when he was introduced to the game. It was pretty much trouble averted for the rest of the match.

For just about every Wallaby, there was a moment of self-­discovery. Not all of them, sadly, were satisfying. Some were heartbreaking.

We may, for instance, never see Stephen Moore starting again at hooker, at least not against the men in black. But for the man who replaced him as Australia’s ­captain, Michael Hooper, this was when he truly took charge of the Wallabies. There was, however, one carry-over from the Sydney Tests. As Andrew Slack put it, name another international ­captain whose side has scored seven unanswered Test tries against the All Blacks.

This all has to be set against the backdrop of another defeat, another Bledisloe Cup series where the questions asked of the All Blacks were tough, but not tough enough. Something is still missing in this Wallabies side. Had it been there, they would have seen out those desperate final two minutes. But they couldn’t. There was a feeling of inevitability about the outcome, as though Jonah Lomu had come alive and taken his place on the All Blacks left wing.

The day, however, is coming when the New Zealand hold over Australian rugby will be broken. How sweet it tasted in those few minutes that followed Beale’s try — even if in the end all we left with was the bitterness of another ­defeat.

But it’s there, and it’s real.Call off the funeral. The Wallabies proved there is still life in Australian rugby after pushing New Zealand to the brink in their second meeting of this year’s Rugby Championship.Michael Cheika’s side were hardly given a prayer by those inside and outside Australia in the run up to facing the All Blacks in Dunedin, largely off the back of the 54-34 drubbing they received the previous week in Sydney. However a 35-29 loss at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, after Beauden Barrett’s dramatic late try, saw the Wallabies depart without a win but with their pride restored. 

Forwards Rory Arnold and Sean McMahon were exceptional and scrum-half Will Genia rolled back the years with a majestic solo score. Bernard Foley’s goal-kicking however proved costly, with the fly-half missing three conversions and penalty.Despite the lift in performance Cheika was frustrated afterwards over the lack of a refereeing decision when All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick appeared to upend Ned Hanigan, although primarily at having missed out on a first win in New Zealand since 2001.

“He’s got his arms through his leg, picked him up and then it’s a free pass. The guy can’t end up on his (head) any other way… just as well he didn’t break his neck,” Cheika said.“We deserved to win. It’s just really disappointing for the players. “They have put in a lot of effort and have copped a lot of grief from back home and given it everything.Australia led 22-21 heading into the final ten minutes, thanks to establishing an early 17-0 lead through tries by Israel Folau, Michael Hooper and Bernard Foley in the first half before inevitably New Zealand responded.

A Ben Smith try on 71 minutes looked to have swung the game the way of the All Blacks, only for Kurtley Beale to upset the script with his try under the posts with under five minutes to go in a quite outstanding Test match.

That forced New Zealand to dig deep once more and snatch the win as the world-class trio of Kieran Read, TJ Perenara and Barrett combined for the fly-half and reigning World Rugby Player of the Year to clinch the win with time running out.

Saturday’s victory also means New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup with a game to go, having now held the trophy since 2003.”Really, really proud of the boys,” New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said. “To give a side like Australia 17 points at the All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream start and to keep their composure and just be three behind at halftime, then hit the front and then lose it again near the end. Really proud of them.

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All Blacks vs Wallabies: Rieko Ioane shows he’s the real deal on the wing for the All Blacks

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OPINION: If a punter at the TAB had put $100 on the All Blacks to win last night he or she would have picked up a $4 payout.

When odds are stacked like that All Blacks vs Wallabies no wonder the test played out like a rugby Twilight Zone, where every expectation is upended, and the only constant is the fact excitement levels were off the scale.

It was stunning enough that the All Blacks too often could hardly put an attack together without self-inflicted damage. Four handling errors in the first four minutes from Sonny Bill Williams? Inconceivable. But it happened. Williams in fact would continue to stumble throughout the whole game, losing far too many battles with ball retention.

And it wasn’t as if all the spooky stuff was coming from the All Blacks. Bernard Foley, who most of us would have guessed might struggle to win a foot race with a strainer post, suddenly finds after-burners and races 20 metres to score. On the other hand he usually kicks with radar accuracy. Last night he seemed to have the goal posts in the cross-hairs, not the gap between them.

The Wallabies forwards, who in Sydney had played more like the Pussycats, appeared to have been taken over by alien body-snatchers, who unfortunately for New Zealand had grit, teeth, and drive, except, of course, for the scrum, when they were basically inept.

Just why the All Blacks started as sleepily as if they’d had to fly across the Indian Ocean in economy class, and been billeted in a Youth Hostel next to a motorway exit, will possibly remain a mystery for the ages.

Rays of hope for the second spell, and for the rest of the season, came in very different forms.

There is now no question that Rieko Ioane is the real deal on the wing. It certainly helps that he has such stunning speed, but the huge add-on he offers is awareness of space and support players.

Growing up he wasn’t especially big so at high school, before he sprouted to his current imposing 1.89m, he played mostly in the midfield, and those early skills have never deserted him.

Owen Franks has been a rock in the scrum for so long it felt weird to discover he does actually have parts of his body that aren’t made of sprung steel and barbed wire.

So it was something of a relief to see Nepo Laulala slot into the tighthead spot with such strength and technique the Australian scrum sometimes showed all the tensile strength of crepe paper.

So what does the fact the All Blacks had to desperately scrap and scrape their way to a win actually mean for both sides?

For the Wallabies a huge rise in optimism. Yes, when the pressure became almost unbearable at times in the second spell the Australians were offside, and caught for it so often it was strange that at least one yellow card wasn’t dished out.

Against Argentina and South Africa they may be buckled, maybe even broken, in the scrums, but in general play, if they can find  levels they reached last night they’ll be a huge threat.

The All Blacks? You might think, having grabbed a stunning get out of gaol victory,  there’d be a temptation to, as Steve Hansen once said, to “flush the dunny and move on.”

But that’s never been the way All Blacks teams operate. The fact is things were very bad before they got better, and their video analysis will be lengthy and brutal.

And if Hansen ever sensed even a tiny touch of complacency in a lead-up before a test in the rest of the year, all he’ll need to do is draw a player aside and murmur, “Come here son, I’ve got a video from Dunedin I’d like to show you.”Given the way the Wallabies are going they possibly could, but such a routine wouldn’t be advisable. All Blacks vs Wallabies Live

Honouring the late Sir Colin Meads with a win is at the forefront of the New Zealanders’ minds. You don’t give a sucker an even break in test footy.

Hansen is sure to have been chirping that line throughout the week.

2. What should we expect from Dane Coles?

The All Blacks hooker says he could have played in the 54-34 win over the Aussies in Sydney last week but was rested as a precautionary measure after suffering headaches while in camp.

It has been nine months since Coles played a test, against France in Paris last November, because he suffered concussion while playing for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby. You could say his legs should be pretty fresh.

This, his 50th test, marks a significant milestone in his career. A competitive sort, Coles will want to make a significant contribution. Potentially, he could be sighted out wide where he can loosen-up a defensive line with his running game and offloads.

3. Is the game a sell-out?

Close to it. About a thousand tickets remained unsold last night. Forsyth Barr Stadium has a capacity of around 28,000. This is a sign of the times. Once upon a time, not so long ago, some rugby desperadoes would have contemplated selling their favourite pet just to get their hands on a ticket to Bledisloe Cup match.

Molly the house cat is pretty safe nowadays. Last week only around 55,000 people watched Bledisloe I in Sydney, the cavernous ANZ Stadium was half empty.

New Zealanders, like the Aussies, are picking and choosing what games to attend. In the wake of the British and Irish Lions tour, the battle for the Bledisloe is more like a pillow fight.

4. What is the weather like in Dunedin?

Overcast with a hint of drizzle in the air, since you ask.

But it is daft question, really. The enclosed stadium in Dunedin ensures there will be no worries about the ball being greasy. Running rugby, you cannot beat it. Expect both teams to shift the pill around, especially in that final 30 minutes.

Last week it was the Aussies who carved-up during the late period and that is something the All Blacks are keen to address.

5. Which Wallabies player has the most to prove tonight?

Fullback Israel Folau is worth keeping an eye on. When he is on his game, he is world-class. He just need 14 other blokes wearing the green and gold to help him out of the Aussies are to win in New Zealand for the first time since 2001. Good luck, Izzy. It could be a long night. All Blacks vs Wallabies

Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/opinion/96191521/rieko-ioane-shows-hes-the-real-deal-on-the-wing-for-the-all-blacks

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Get Now- All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream Online Free HD TV Rugby Bledisloe Cup 2017 Live Streaming. Watch New Zealand vs Australia-Rugby Championship. Wallabies v All Blacks –  The prospect of bringing back Israel Dagg would have been considered, but not for long. He’s had a big season already and he’s got plenty more rugby to play after this week when Ben Smith goes on sabbatical.

The option was there to return Dagg to the right wing, push Smith to his favoured fullback role and use Damian McKenzie off the bench. But why make that change?

McKenzie, a couple of loose moments aside, was terrific and he’s a player who everyone can see that the more he plays the better he will get. Dagg was struggling with a stiff knee so why not give him another week off, knowing that for the next test he can be a straight replacement for Smith and contribution depending, most likely remain in that No 14 jersey for much of the rest of the season.

There would have been no appetite to bring back Jerome Kaino. Not yet and not when Liam Squire played so well in Sydney. Squire will be on his home ground, is in great physical condition having been forced to endlessly condition while healing a broken thumb and is clearly keen to impose himself and make his mark at this level.

So the only discussion with any real foundation would have been at hooker, where the decision had to be made on whether to start the fit-again Dane Coles or introduce him off the bench. Even that wouldn’t have been overly taxing for the selectors as the desire to get Coles back into the swing of test football is high.

He’s had a disrupted season due to his prolonged absence from Super Rugby, but he’s got his conditioning back to reasonable levels and with a few games for the Hurricanes under his belt, there is a confidence that he can charge through a good 60 minutes on Saturday.

Taylor has played well in the absence of Coles and been one of the big improvers in the last few months, but for all that he has given, Coles remains the number one hooker in the country and a player with a special set of skills.

He’s in that category of player that the coaches trust to be able to deliver even if he’s a little short of game time.

And they also want his leadership back in the group as much as they want his uncanny offloading and ability to play in the wider channels.

Coles brings an added dimension to the All Blacks attack and that’s what the coaching team are after in the next few tests – the re-establishment of the All Blacks as a consistent and brutal attacking force.

They made some headway on that last year and after a disjointed Lions series where the team was affected by injury, suspension and a seriously good opponent, the goal is to deliver back-to-back, dominant, consistent performances over the next few weeks.

All Blacks team to play Australia at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday:

15. Damian McKenzie
14. Ben Smith
13. Ryan Crotty
12. Sonny Bill Williams
11. Rieko Ioane
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith
8. Kieran Read (c)
7. Sam Cane
6. Liam Squire
5. Sam Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Owen Franks
2. Dane Coles
1. Joe Moody

Reserves: Codie Taylor, Kane Hames, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

Israel Folau has described the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup capitulation on Saturday as “quite shocking” and put his hand up for a number of bad defensive reads, despite being one of Australia’s best in attack.

In one of the most extraordinary halves of rugby seen on Australian shores, the Wallabies had few answers in defence to a rampaging All Blacks attacking outfit, who took a 40-6 lead into halftime.

Despite notching four unanswered tries in the last half-hour of play, the damage was irreparable for the Wallabies, who now have less than a week to turn things around before another showdown with world rugby’s premier side

Despite the scoreline going into halftime, I still felt like there was not much difference. It was really close, which is quite funny. The second half was a lot better. I thought we started off the game really well and had a few collapses defensively. We’ve had a review of the game and we’ll look to work on those things yesterday, today and through the rest of the week.”

Folau was caught out of position during the All Blacks’ second try, giving 20-year-old Rieko Ioane too much space out on New Zealand’s left edge before he ran around and scored.

The Wallabies fullback has accepted responsibility for the miss but, to his credit, he scored a five-pointer himself in the 69th minute and set up a Tevita Kuridrani try with a clever offload while on the ground.

“Myself, I’ll put my hand up for a couple of mistakes and errors defensively,” Folau said.

We just hope they [supporters] can stick around and continue to support us. It’s a big thing as a team to get that support from the public and fans and to keep pushing us through, especially for this challenging time.”

There is significant pressure on the Wallabies to give a better account of themselves in Dunedin on Saturday.

At the same time, the All Blacks are bitterly disappointed they conceded four tries in the second half, in what was a series of uncharacteristic concentration lapses in concentration.

No doubt the men in black will be seeking an 80-minute performance, but Folau has stressed the Wallabies need not be too tense heading into a game in which they are where they will be trying to save the Bledisloe Cup.

“We’ve got to start well but not take on that kind of pressure that is unnecessary,” Folau said.

“If we can go out there relaxed and ready to play and knowing our roles, it’ll make our jobs easier. We’ll learn from that and continue to work on our game.

“Our mentality going out from the start of the game has to be the same.”

Folau said he relished the chance to once again start alongside Wallabies No 12 Kurtley Beale, who after a slow introduction found his feet in the second half.

“I enjoyed playing with Kurtley and it’s great to see him back out there in the gold jersey,” Folau said.

“I’ve been playing with him for a couple of years now and I feel really comfortable knowing the way he plays and what his role is for the team.

“We try and find opportunities in the game and just feed off each other. It’s something we try and work on during the week, so we’ll continue to do that.”

All Blacks vs Wallabies: Wallabies fans asked to get behind their team by rookie winger Curtis Rona

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IT’S rarely been harder to be upbeat as an All Blacks vs Wallabies fan.But positivity and faith is exactly what the Wallabies need from home right now, according to Curtis Rona.

The Force centre and former NRL player pleaded with Aussie rugby supporters to resist the negativity overwhelming the code at the moment and get behind the Wallabies as they prepare to take on the All Blacks on home soil this weekend.

No Wallabies team has won in New Zealand in 17 years and after a heavy first-up loss in Sydney, the Wallabies are at record-high odds to upset the All Blacks.

Rona, who made his debut last weekend, said the Wallabies need the support of their country to get it done.

“A lot of people have been negative about the whole situation and the whole of Australian rugby at the moment,” Rona said.“It’s not a good time but that’s what makes the game more important.“If they (can) stick it out with us and get behind us and encourage us and be positive more than negative, that’s what we need in times like this.“It’s all right for supporters to jump on a winning streak and when it’s times like this, against the best team in the world, we need people to support us and show some positivity coming into these games.”Rona had a mixed night on debut at ANZ Stadium. He played on the wing but was deployed in the centres in defence, and his missed tackle count ​(six​) was equal highest in the team.The former junior Kiwi league representative managed to score the Wallabies’ first try, however, which launched a fightback.“There was highs and lows about the debut, the result didn’t go our way,” Rona said.It was probably one of the worst scores we’ve conceded but on a high note I got my first game under my belt and hopefully I can move forward and try and get more game time.

“They just kept scoring back-to-back tries, the majority of them were from our area. It wasn’t because they did a nice flash move, it was because we made too many simple errors and obviously New Zealand make you pay and they did in the first half.”

Rona appears set to make way for the return of Dane Haylett-Petty, who missed the game with a biceps injury. He remains a chance to stay on the bench, however, with Tevita Kuridrani a strong chance to be promoted into the starting team ahead of Samu Kerevi.

In hammering Australia 54-34 in the Bledisloe Cup opener, it’s obvious the All Blacks were desperate to relieve their frustrations from the drawn British & Irish Lions series.

I watched the first half almost in disbelief; the All Blacks were playing some outstanding rugby. They looked really good and I was really pleased to see the likes of Liam Squire show that he belongs in that No.6 jersey. Aaron Smith’s passes, meanwhile, were brilliant and Ryan Crotty was the glue in the midfield. And, of course, there was Brodie Retallick being the beast that he is.But from the other side, I was almost shocked to see how bad the Australians were. The All Blacks were breaking their line at will. The Wallabies were falling off tackles; it was embarrassing All Blacks vs Wallabies Live. By halftime it looked as if it was going to be a blow-out.I have no doubt there will have been some seriously stern words said inside the Australian shed at halftime, as you would expect, and they certainly turned things around in the second half. It also proved the Wallabies got their midfield selection wrong to start with. When Tevita Kuridrani came on he really shored up the midfield defence and the All Blacks weren’t able to break the line as often as they did in the first half.

Some of the reserves who came off the bench for the Australians proved they should have been starting in the first place. But it was all a bit too late.

Coming away from Saturday night’s Test, as a New Zealander, it was hard to look past the 28 points the All Blacks conceded in the second half. I thought it must have been some sort of record.

There was obviously a healthy cushion with the scoreline the way it was, but I think the All Blacks should be seriously disappointed about conceding that many points. In the past, New Zealand’s reserves always added something when coming off the bench. But they did themselves no justice at all by being part of what happened in the second half in Sydney.One thing that was disappointing about the Test was the effort by the Australian newspapers to try to tarnish the All Blacks’ image in the same week as a Bledisloe Test match. If their stories were meant to affect the All Blacks, it clearly didn’t work; you only have to look at the scoreboard at halftime.The All Blacks are no different to any other level of society; if you make mistakes, you pay for those mistakes. You let the other players in the team down, and that is life. If you can’t expect that mistakes will be made you are deluded.

Aaron Smith and Jerome Kaino have to deal with their situations. Have these incidents tarnished the brand? I don’t think so. In six months’ time, if not before, the All Blacks’ brand will be as strong as ever.

Even after a victory like that, the All Blacks will have come away with plenty of work-ons and areas for improvement. That spells bad news for the Wallabies in Dunedin where I’m sure they will get much more of the same and probably a little bit more given the passing of Sir Colin Meads. He is one of New Zealand’s heroes and a great icons of All Blacks rugby.

I was never lucky enough to watch Colin Meads play, I was about two-and-a-half when he finished, but I heard all the stories about what a fantastic player he was. I got to know him as the character and the man, especially having a bit to do with him in 1995 when he was the manager of the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup.Meads just had huge mana about him and he spoke with a slow, bellowing voice that just made so much sense every time he opened his mouth. He was a very wise man; very calm, cool and collected. When he walked into a room everyone took notice.

One of my fondest memories was in the lead-up to the 1995 World Cup when we had a series of camps. The first one we had was in Queenstown, which was more about team-building and doing stuff together in the offseason to get on with each other a bit. All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream

Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/sport/rugby/news/bledisloe-cup-wallabies-fans-asked-to-get-behind-their-team-by-rookie-winger-curtis-rona/news-story/7d9d82b4f399c01296322abd4ffca420

Wallabies vs All Blacks : Date, Kick-Off Time and Bledisloe Cup 2017

Australia and New Zealand will write another chapter in their storied rivalry on Saturday, as the two meet in the opening match of the 2017 Rugby Championship at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

As is always the case when these sides meet, results will count towards the Bledisloe Cup series. This match is the first of a trio between them this year, with the reverse Rugby Championship fixture in a week’s time in Dunedin; the two sides will go head-to-head at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on October 21 in a potential decider.

It’s a trophy that has not been out of New Zealand hands since 2002, when Australia won a two-match series 2-0. Once again, the All Blacks are the favourites to earn this prestigious accolade.

While thoughts don’t turn away from the Bledisloe Cup for long when these two teams meet, focus will initially be on the Rugby Championship for the duo.

If Australia are to dethrone New Zealand, you sense they will need to begin that process in Sydney. But it’s been a while since the Wallabies scored any kind of victory against their old rivals, the most recent coming at the ANZ Stadium in August 2015.

In truth, Mike Cheika’s side have not been in the best form since then, with the Rugby World Cup final loss to New Zealand seemingly knocking the wind out of their sails; just eight wins have followed in the 18 matches since. The coach did not sound particularly confident of a win on Saturday either.

The Rugby Championship kicks off for 2017 this weekend, starting with old foes New Zealand and Australia facing off in a match that doubles as the first of the three-match Bledisloe Cup series.

So where will the two matches be played, what time do they kick off, and who will feature for the Wallabies and All Blacks?

Time and venue

The tournament opener will be played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, with kick off scheduled for 8pm (AEST) on Saturday 19 August.

Australia vs New Zealand team lists, ins and outs

Wallabies team: 1. Scott Sio 2. Stephen Moore 3. Allan Alaalatoa 4. Rory Arnold 5. Adam Coleman 6. Ned Hanigan 7. Michael Hooper (c) 8. Sean McMahon 9. Will Genia 10. Bernard Foley 11. Curtis Rona 12. Kurtley Beale 13. Samu Kerevi 14. Henry Speight 15. Israel Folau

Reserves 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau 17. Tom Robertson 18. Sekope Kepu 19. Rob Simmons 20. Lopeti Timani 21. Nick Phipps 22. Reece Hodge 23. Tevita Kuridrani

The big inclusion is former NRL star Curtis Rona, who makes his Wallabies debut on the wing in place of the injured Dane Haylett-Petty. Also in the backs, Kurtley Beale makes a welcome return to the Wallabies’ midfield, his first Test match since the 2015 World Cup final loss to the All Blacks.

Up front, Sean McMahon is back in the side, starting at No.8, while Waratahs teammates Ned Hannigan and Michael Hooper will round out the loose forwards. Otherwise, things are fairly settled in the Wallabies pack.

All Blacks team: 1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor 3. Owen Franks 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Samuel Whitelock 6. Liam Squire 7. Sam Cane 8. Kieran Read (C) 9. Aaron Smith 10. Beauden Barrett 11. Rieko Ioane 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Ryan Crotty 14. Ben Smith 15. Damian McKenzie

Reserves 16. Nathan Harris 17. Wyatt Crockett 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi 19. Luke Romano 20. Ardie Savea 21. TJ Perenara 22. Lima Sopoaga 23. Anton Lienert-Brown

The biggest surprise selection for the All Blacks is seeing Damian McKenzie listed to start at fullback, with Ben Smith shifting to the wing, and Israel Dagg missing out altogether. Sonny Bill Williams slots straight back in at second five-eighth after his four-week suspension for a savage shoulder charge which saw him sent off during the second Lions Test and miss the third.

In the forwards, the Kiwis are more settled, with Liam Squire taking Jerome Kaino’s spot at blindside flanker the only change of note.

As for Aaron Smith, who stands accused of lying to his coach and team about a bathroom affair last season, Steve Hansen says the under-fire scrumhalf will be starting as named.

Noise, noise, noise. The All Blacks have been surrounded by it ahead of Bledisloe I in Sydney on Saturday night, and not a lot of it has been about the 80 minutes that will unfold at the Olympic stadium.

Therein lies the challenge for Steve Hansen’s men as they seek to get their show back on track after a disappointing series against the British and Irish Lions. Somehow they have to  shut out all the distractions, and focus firmly on the task at hand, which is continuing their Bledisloe dominance over the wobbly Wallabies.

Should be easy, right?

Shambolic Wallabies defence exploited by All Blacks : All Blacks vs Wallabies

Get Now- All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream Online Free HD TV Rugby Bledisloe Cup 2017 Live Streaming. Watch New Zealand vs Australia-Rugby Championship. Wallabies v All Blacks –  A LATE Wallabies fightback helped narrow the margin but it couldn’t prevent yet another Bledisloe Cup hammering at the hands of the All Blacks.The Kiwis put a week of off-field scandal and distraction behind them to put the Aussies to the sword on it, scoring seven unanswered tries before 50 minutes had even ticked by on the clock.

It was the most points ever scored by the All Blacks against Australia but just as the record books were being prepared for a whole ugly rewrite, the Wallabies staged a second-half fightback.

ANALYSIS: Bledis’low’ now the new normal for Aus rugby

BLAME GAME: Cheika defends the indefensible

MATCH REPORT: Record rout rolls Wallabies

PLAYER RATINGS: Wallabies studs and duds

ANDREW SLACK: Bledisloe bomb was worse than it looks Australia scored four tries in the final half-hour to narrow the margin from a record 48 points to a slightly more respectable 20.

It helped ease the Wallabies’ blushes a little. But not much.Michael Hooper lays down the law.For as much spirit was shown in the last half-hour, the Wallabies defence oscillated between atrocious and missing in the first 50 minutes and any hope of victory was gone well before the belated comeback.

The Wallabies made 95 tackles but missed a whopping 48 in the game and at times the All Blacks appeared to be able to score at will.

PLAYER RATINGS: Who starred and who struggled for Wallabies ANDREW SLACK: Wallabies debacle worse than it looked

Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane scored twice, feasting off Australian mistakes and defensive errors highlighting the disturbing lack of confidence in the Wallabies ranks this yea Wallabies press conference The only defensive starch came in the last quarter, when the energy of the Wallabies bench helped them stave off an unwanted place in the record books.

The most points conceded in a Test is 61 against South Africa in 1997, and just one more Kiwi try would have equalled that. But it didn’t come.The second-half tries also saw off the possibility of the 2017 Wallabies taking the record of worst losing margin (45 points) against the Springboks in 2008.

To be any chance of winning the Bledisloe Cup this year, Australia must now go to Dunedin to try and beat the Kiwis on home soil on Saturday.If they play anything like they did in Sydney, that’s not happening.Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said he was happy with the fightback, but not much else,.

“I am really proud we showed that Australian spirit and came back there,” he said post-match.All Blacks captain Kieran Read said the game had felt “surreal in the first half”.

“It’s nice to play when it’s all coming off like that,” Read said. Rieko runs riot“We tried to come here and play our game and a lot of cases it just stuck in the first half.”​It would be easy to say it was all over by halftime, with the All Blacks leading 40-6 courtesy of six tries.

In fact, it was all over by the 25 minutes, when ​the Kiwis used a 10-minute period to sink Australia with three quick tries and turn what had been a reasonably close game into another walkover.

Bernard Foley nailed a penalty in the third minute but the Wallabies’ main problem — utterly woeful defence — didn’t take long to emerge.

An innocuous All Blacks attacking line somehow managed to bamboozle the Aussies and Liam Squire raced down the left sideline to score in the seventh minute.Beauden Barrett escapes the clutches of Henry Speight.

Still, Australia continued to attack and an Israel Folau offload put the Wallabies in good position. They walked away with a penalty and at the 17th minute it was 7-6.

Then, carnage.

When the Kiwis attacked the Aussie line, they somehow turned a two-on-five into a try when Folau bit on a drifting Beauden Barrett and let Ioane score on his outside.

Three minutes later, Ioane went in again when a rushed pass from Bernard Foley was knocked by Kurtley Beale and the Kiwis swooped on the loose ball to score. More simple missed tackles let Crotty score a too-simple try another three minutes later, and then, Australia were toast at 26-6, with 56 minutes of the game left to play.

More missed tackles led to the Wallabies defending their line again and when Sonny Bill Williams was given a short ball near the line, halfback Aaron Smith didn’t even wait until he broken through two defenders to score before he hollered about the try. It was that certain NRL convert Curtis Rona scores on Wallabies debu Samu Kerevi missed another tackle and Crotty strolled in for a disturbingly easy second try. ​If Cheika’s halftime speech made any impact, it didn’t show.

Two minutes into the second period, Damien McKenzie scored a simple try while fans were still finding their seats after the break. Five minutes later, Ben Smith scored after more missed tackles. People reached for the record books to put context to the slaughter.

But then, suddenly, Australia’s fightback began. Curtis Rona scored from a Nick Phipps pass in the 51st minute after a scrum on the Kiwi line, and minutes later Tevita Kuridrani scored a second when he took an offload from Folau.

The Wallabies scored a third in the 60th minute though Beale when he picked up a dropped Kiwi pass and raced 50 metres before Folau added try in the 67th minute.NEW ZEALAND 54 (Ryan Crotty 2, Rieko Ioane 2, Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Liam Squire, Sonny Bill Williams tries; Beauden Barrett 7 conversions) AUSTRALIA 34 (Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Tevita Kuridrani, Curtis Rona tries; Bernard Foley 4 conversions, 2 penalties) at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. HT:40-6. Source

Wallabies vs All Blacks : How to watch the Bledisloe Cup first Test online or on TV

Get Now- All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream Online Free HD TV Rugby Bledisloe Cup 2017 Live Streaming. Watch New Zealand vs Australia-Rugby Championship. Wallabies v All Blacks –  The Bledisloe Cup gets underway with the Wallabies out to do the seemingly unthinkable to defeat the all-conquering All Blacks. This is The Roar‘s ultimate guide to live streaming and watching the match on TV.

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 8pm (AEST) on Saturday, August 19. It’s being held at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.The Bledisloe Cup has been held by New Zealand since 2003, with Australia only winning three of their past 20 matches against the New Zealand side.

Furthermore, the first two matches of the Bledisloe form part of the Rugby Championship, which also features South Africa and Argentina. The third match of the Bledisloe is played outside of the Championship.How to watch the match on TV The match is being broadcast on TV in Australia through two networks. The first option, and the broadcaster of every Rugby Championship match, is Foxtel.They held the rights to broadcast every match during the Super Rugby season and continue to do so for all Wallabies internationals.

Their broadcast will begin a full hour before the start of the match at 7pm (AEST). That allows them to have a long build-up to kick-off in Sydney, while they are also expected to stay on the air until 10:30pm (AEST) to wrap things up – or roughly 45 minutes after fulltime.

If you’re looking to watch on free to air TV, Network Ten are also broadcasting the match live and in full.Their coverage will be a little shorter than Foxtel’s, but will still go live at 7:30pm (AEST), allowing for a half-hour pre-game. They will stay on the air until 10:15pm (AEST).

How to live stream the match online With the game being broadcast on two channels, it can also be live streamed in two different methods.

To live stream the Foxtel coverage, you can either do this through Foxtel Now, or if you have an existing Foxtel subscription with the sports package, through the Foxtel App.However, likely the simplest way to live stream the match will be to do it via the Tenplay website, where you can stream Ten’s coverage free.

How to watch the match on TV
Foxtel offers the best choice of live sport from Australia and around the world.Sport on Foxtel’s iQ3 is the championship viewing experience including HD quality, the ability to record your favourite team and shows, as well as stream live sport anytime, anywhere on your favourite devices with the Foxtel app^ included in your subscription.

How to live stream the match online
Stream the best choice of live sport from Australia and around the world instantly with Foxtel Now. Foxtel Now is the more flexible and accessible way to stream live sport to your devices. Plus, you can start watching today with a two-week free trial^.

If you already have a Foxtel subscription that includes the Sport pack, you can stream live sport anytime, anywhere to your devices through the free Foxtel app~.^Requires internet and compatible device. Data charges may apply. Australia only.~Just connect your compatible device to the internet. Data charges may apply. Shows only available if they’re in your pack, some shows/channels not available. Sorry, Australia only.

Michael Cheika is no dill, he’s arguably one of the most switched on blokes in world rugby.The 50-year-old speaks fluent French, Italian, and Arabic, has built up a hugely successful multi-million dollar fashion house from scratch called ‘Live Fashion’.

He has done this in and around his time in rugby where he was a fearsome, uncompromising back rower of 300-plus first grade games with the Galloping Greens.Every week Randwick’s Shute Shield opponent would ask the big question – “Is Cheika playing this week?”

A premiership player became a premiership coach before becoming the first to win major tournaments in both hemispheres – the Heineken Cup with Leinster in 2005, and the Super Rugby crown with the Waratahs in 2014, ending a 19-year drought.

When Cheika took over from Ewen McKenzie as Wallaby coach in November 2014, he had a debut win over Wales 33-18 at Millennium Stadium.After 16 internationals Cheika had 11 wins to boast a healthy 68.75 per cent success rate.

The 16th international was the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, and although the Wallabies were never going to beat the awesome All Blacks, it was no mean feat reaching the decider at Twickenham.In 18 internationals, the Wallabies have only won eight, or 44.44 per cent, with the Wallabies dropping from two in the world, to fourth.

Cheika knows only too well he desperately needs a tactical change, and when Stephen Moore unselfishly stood down as captain en route to retirement, the new tactics needed a new skipper.

Why on earth would under the pump Cheika give Michael Hooper the nod when Hooper’s track record is a whole lot worse than his coach?Since rugby turned pro there’s been 19 Wallaby captains, and where does Hooper stand?

Dead motherless last among the eight skippers who have led the Wallabies in at least ten internationals.It’s no surprise John Eales tops the list. Not only was one of the world’s all-time great locks, but he was an inspirational leader who kicked vital goals as well. Source

AlL Blacks vs Wallabies: Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale hold key to Wallabies victory over All Blacks

Get Now- All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream Online Free HD TV Rugby Bledisloe Cup 2017 Live Streaming. Watch New Zealand vs Australia-Rugby Championship. Wallabies v All Blacks –

If the Wallabies are any chance of bringing All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream down the might of New Zealand in this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup opener, Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale know deep down they need to be at their absolute attacking best.

As the pair walked through the tunnel at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, having not played a Test with each other since the 2015 World Cup final, they joked with each other, clearly buoyed by each other’s company back in a gold jersey.

While Folau was Australia’s go-to man all of last international season, Beale’s return to the fold after a stint in the UK has energised teammates; his presence infectious.

“You grow that extra leg when you know you have him beside you,” Folau said of Beale. “He brings a lot more confidence to your game and it’s exciting. Guys like KB, they don’t come around too often. You want to try and make the most of playing alongside him and he’s a special player. Everyone knows that. You give him the ball and he’s always going to create something out of nothing. Guys around him play with him and they grow.”

These are words of praise usually reserved for Folau himself; a master at creating something out of nothing and the All Blacks’ No.1 threat they will be looking to nullify. Folau, who has scored six tries in his last three Tests, will look to play off Beale, who is likely to be named at No.12 for Australia despite not having played a minute of football in three months.

It is a combination conceived at Super Rugby level for the Waratahs and one that became almost second nature for the pair.  “You’re stupid if you’re not looking for Izzy,” Beale said. “He’s been incredible in the June series. He’s been on fire, so for me I don’t look to overdo it. We’ve got a good understanding of what we want from each other and we don’t think about it too much, that’s the best thing about it. It makes the job a lot easier when you’re out there on the field.”

In a year plagued by off-field dramas and shocking on-field results, rugby fans are as disillusioned as ever over the state of the game. A victory over New Zealand, who will themselves be hurting after drawing their recent series against the British and Irish Lions, has the potential to reignite passion amongst those once upon a time diehard rugby supporters who are sick and tired of Bledisloe defeat after Bledisloe defeat. “Everyone will have their opinions and thoughts outside of us as a playing group and whether or not they think we’re a chance to win or not,” Folau said. “We’re definitely confident going into the game. “We don’t think about the ll Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream result too much. It’s irrelevant. For us it’s about coming out here and putting our best footy forward and if that’s good enough to win, then so be it. Otherwise we can’t think about the result too much otherwise you build that pressure for yourself which is not necessary.” Beale has being touted as Australian rugby’s saviour, so is he feeling the pressure just days out from the biggest Test of the year?

“Not really, mate … no nerves, just more excitement.,” Beale said. “There’s a bit of responsibility there to help these young guys come through and help them out in their preparation and in their mindset to tackle the week. We’re all wanting the one thing.

“Obviously that’s important to win back a lot of the fans but I think more importantly for ourselves as a team if we get the right result on the weekend, it’s definitely going to help us [get] the boost of confidence that we need to be able to win the Rugby Championship.”

As for his troublesome hamstring, Beale conceded there was a degree of doubt in his mind as to whether he would pull through but has full faith he can play an instrumental role on Saturday. “There’s been so much work been put into it,” Beale said. “I’ll be ready that’s for sure. It’s just a matter of making sure my recovery and preparation is right leading up to the game

These days, there isn’t a current All Black who has known life without the Bledisloe Cup.

The closest they get is that veteran flanker Jerome Kaino can remember touring with the All Blacks in 2004 and seeing for himself what having the trophy meant to the likes of Justin Marshall and Anton Oliver, who had been through the dark period of 1998 to 2002.Those older players of that period had felt the pain of seeing the Wallabies out play them.

They knew what it was like to give everything and still not be good enough to win.

Between 1998 and 2002 the Wallabies had this magical ability to conjure the miracle moment; to find a way to get to the 80th minute as winners, breaking New Zealand hearts each and every time.When the All Blacks took back possession in 2003, the emotions of those who had long-suffered, were real, raw and strong.The likes of Marshall and Oliver knew life without the Bledisloe and life with it, and didn’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about which they preferred.But this current group of All Blacks have no such pain in the system.

All they have ever known is endless victory: that the Bledisloe is tough, that the Wallabies throw a lot at them and occasionally grab a test win, but haven’t been good enough or resourceful enough to do it the necessary number of times in a season to take back the trophy.

Having experienced this pattern for so long, is there some kind of acceptance within young All Blacks minds that this is just how things are?

Repetition to this extent creates expectation and while the All Blacks take the Wallabies hugely seriously, without ever having known what it is like to lose a series, there does often feel to be some kind of slightly manufactured element to their stance.Nothing is more powerful than sampled experience and who doesn’t wonder if the best thing for the longer-term future of the Bledisloe Cup and for this emerging All Blacks side, would be for the Wallabies to defy all predictions, buck every trend and pull off a classic win in Sydney and then somehow do it all again in either Dunedin or Brisbane?Goodness knows Australian rugby needs that miracle to happen, but so too, for different reasons does New Zealand.An entire generation of Kiwis probably doesn’t believe that Australia ever held the Bledisloe Cup.That same generation must wonder why everyone talks up a rivalry that they can’t see actually exists.Selling tickets to Bledisloe tests down the track could become impossible rather than hard if there is no credible sense of fear or unpredictability around the outcome.

From an All Blacks perspective, defeat would fast-track the emotional education of a young team.

Give them exposure to genuine pain ll Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream and with it, that deeper desire to push that bit deeper into their preparation knowing that defeat is a real rather than imagined entity.And above all else, a Wallabies series victory would restore faith in sport’s ability to surprise and to not conform to logic or sensible analysis.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/israel-folau-and-kurtley-beale-hold-key-to-wallabies-victory-over-all-blacks-20170816-gxxh8c.html

Wallabies believe now more than ever they can beat All Blacks

Get Now- All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream Online Free HD TV Rugby Bledisloe Cup 2017 Live Streaming. Watch New Zealand vs Australia-Rugby Championship. Wallabies v All Blacks – Lock Adam Coleman insists the Wallabies believe more than ever they can beat the All Blacks.The Wallabies last held the transtasman symbol of supremacy 15 years ago, well before any of the current squad entered test rugby.

Australia’s perennial Bledisloe failures since then have caused plenty of angst among local rugby fans.After the on-field struggles and the off-field turmoil in Super Rugby, Australian rugby followers have rarely been in greater need of a morale-boosting series win over New Zealand.

It will require a big turnaround from last year when the All Blacks prevailed 42-8 in Sydney, 29-9 in Wellington and 42-10 in Auckland Asked if the Wallabies deep down believed they could beat the All Blacks, starting on Saturday night in Sydney, or if the mental side was a problem, Coleman was adamant their mindset is absolutely positive.

“I think the boys believe now more than ever that coming this weekend, we can beat the All Blacks,” he said on Monday.”The growth the team has experienced over the last four weeks, not only physically but mentally.

“That mental resilience, that hard training that we’ve been doing, especially the younger guys experiencing that for their first time, I think it’s paid dividends.”Coleman has yet to taste a Bledisloe win, having finished on the losing side in his only two matches last year.

This time last year it was the first time a lot of us had played the All Blacks and they are the best team in the world and they are the benchmark,” Coleman said.”We definitely felt like last year with each performance we improved and we’re looking to improve again on those performances and the lessons learnt.”

Captain Michael Hooper is keen to discover just where his team stands after an intense preparation.”You need to put an opposition in front of you to see how we’re really tracking, so Saturday couldn’t come quick enough,” openside flanker Hooper said.

“I’m excited. You just want to test where the team is at and test to see where the attitude is.”Hooper extracted a positive from Australia’s failure to get a team through to the Super Rugby semi-finals.

“One of the positives of not being in the finals I guess was being able to get together so early and bond away from footy and do the hard work so far out from the games,” Hooper said.Winger Dane Haylett-Petty said his torn bicep was getting better every day and he hoped to be fit for Saturday.

The All Blacks vs Wallabies Live have become the latest visiting team to spurn the delights of Dunedin – instead deciding to do the bulk of their build-up for next week’s Bledisloe Cup test at a golf course about 360km north of the Octagon.The opening Bledisloe Cup test is set for Sydney on Saturday night, and the second clash between the sides is at Forsyth Barr Stadium the following Saturday.

The All Blacks will travel to Dunedin this Sunday but will not leave Sydney until late afternoon and not arrive in the South until 11.30pm on Sunday.But that is still well before the Australians who will not arrive in Dunedin until late on Thursday night.

The Wallabies will head across the Tasman on Monday but, instead of coming straight to Dunedin, have opted to stay at the Clearwater Resort in Christchurch.The resort is home to a championship golf course but also has other facilities including a gym and nearby playing fields.

It is also close to Christchurch Airport.The Wallabies will spend three days at the resort before heading to Dunedin late on Thursday, arriving in the South just after 6pm.They will have one captain’s run at the covered stadium on Friday before the game on Saturday.

The side will then leave Dunedin before lunch the next day so will be in the city for not even three days.The Wallabies are just mirroring what is becoming an increasing trend for overseas sides coming to Dunedin – training elsewhere before heading to the city a day or two before the game kicks off.

When the Wallabies played in Dunedin in 2013, the team stayed in Queenstown for two days before bussing to Dunedin on the Friday, the day before the game.The Wallabies were beaten 41-33 in that testLast year, Wales stayed in Wellington for a week, not coming to Dunedin until the Thursday before the game.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said as the side had a midweek game in Hamilton before the test in Wellington it had not had a long time together so opted to stay and train together for longer in Wellington.Wales ended up being thrashed by the All Blacks 46-6 under the roof.

Before that, teams such as the Springboks and England have stayed away from Dunedin for the week and only come to Dunedin two days before the game.Gatland changed his mind this year and the British and Irish Lions and its large touring party of more than 80 all came to Dunedin for the match against the Highlanders.

Overseas Super Rugby sides also tend to give Dunedin the thumbs down when games are played at Forsyth Barr Stadium.Most South African sides are here on tour so spend the bulk of their times in between games at a resort, mostly in Queenstown and arriving in Dunedin a day before the game.

This year the Stormers bucked the trend and spent the bulk of the week before the game under the roof in Dunedin.It did not help though as the Cape Town-based side was well beaten 57-14 by the Highlanders.

Western Force pair Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Coleman insist the Wallabies have the physical ability and mental resilience to beat the All Blacks, but coach Michael Cheika’s major role this week could be focusing minds following the fallout of the franchise’s Super Rugby axing.

In a move which has shaken Australian Rugby to its core, the Perth-based club will no longer be involved in the competition following a review which also put the Melbourne Rebels under the spotlight.

The Force, backed by a billionaire supporter, are appealing the decision, but the shock and anger felt by players and supporters of the game in that part of Australia has quickly shown itself in the wake of Friday’s decision.

Outside back Haylett-Petty, hopeful of being available for Saturday’s test at ANZ Stadium despite a biceps injury, is one of the first Wallabies to come through the Western Australian rugby system and today spoke of his anger, confusion and disappointment at the decision.

As a group we’re really sticking tight,” he said. “The process is not done yet. There are a lot of people back home still fighting the good fight. We believe all the administrators at Rugby WA are doing all they can to overturn this decision.”An extra cruelty is the fact that there is no set time-frame for the appeal, so the issue, hanging over the Force players all season, could yet run and run.

A Force teammate at the All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream lock Coleman, said: “I feel for the supporters back home and all our mates back home. A lot of the fans and the players are still in shock at the moment. It will hit home and when it does hopefully we’ll stick tight.

“I personally feel the fight isn’t over yet.”Coleman, who had been at the franchise for four years and has led the side as skipper, added: “I’ve poured my soul into the club. It’s very much part of me and I’m sure everyone who has played in the jersey feels the same way.”

Feelings are at fever pitch on the west coast, and they haven’t been sated by the resignation of ARU boss Bill Pulver. There is talk of Force supporters boycotting the Wallabies v Springboks test in Perth on September 9, or even supporting the South Africans.

 

Source

All Blacks vs Wallabies Live: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s testy response to bug-gate questions

Get Now- All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream Online Free HD TV Rugby Bledisloe Cup 2017 Live Streaming. Watch New Zealand vs Australia-Rugby Championship. Wallabies v All Blacks   IN a side full of superstars Ryan Crotty’s name doesn’t immediately leap off the page, but the Crusaders midfielder is becoming increasingly valuable to Steve Hansen’s All Blacks.

The Crusaders’ only two defeats of the season — against the British and Irish Lions 12-3 and Hurricanes 31-22 — came when the 28-year-old was missing.

Nor did the All Blacks win either of their next two Tests against the Lions after Crotty limped off midway through the first Test with a hamstring injury.

After Crotty’s All Black teammate Sonny Bill Williams was cleared to play the opening Bledisloe match in Sydney, the duo, as well as versatile Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown, will compete for the starting midfield combination.

It’s one of the few selection areas that are sure to come up for debate when Hansen sits down with the All Blacks brains trust.

It’s expected that Hansen will revert back to Williams and Crotty, who started the Lions series at No 12 and No 13 before being forced to name a new combination because of injury and suspension, for Saturday night’s opening Bledisloe Test against the Wallabies in Sydney.

But former All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens says he’d like to see Crotty, who was the man of the match during the Crusaders’ Super Rugby final win over the Lions in Johannesburg, start in the second five-eighth position and Williams given a go at outside centre“I’ve always preferred Crotty at 12 because I think that’s his best position,” Mehrtens told foxsports.com.au.

“But he obviously can handle it really, really well at 13 too.“But I think 12’s his best position.“I’d be curious to see what Sonny Bill goes like at 13, as well.

“Of the three players Lienert-Brown is probably the most versatile as well in terms of covering the two positions, but I’m curious to see what they come up with.“They want to get the ball in Sonny Bill’s hands as early as possible.

“I think he’d still get that at 13 and I think he could use his height to his advantage where he’s away from more of that traffic and can get himself into more one-on-one positions.”

Playing in-between second-year playmaker Richie Mo’unga and rookie outside centre Jack Goodhue, Crotty was the perfect foil for his two young teammates.

His straight running, organisation and strong defence have always been the hallmarks of his game, but Mehrtens said that Crotty had taken his pace to a new level this year which had made him a more dangerous threat.“He’s the guy who really brought that backline together for the Crusaders,” Mehrtens said.

“Richie Mo’unga was outstanding and showed a lot of composure for a guy so young, as was Mitch Hunt when he filled in and they’ve got really good nines and 10s and any of those different combinations work really well together, but the consistent factor was Ryan Crotty being there.

“Whether it’s on attack or defence and just providing the nous, and saying he provides the seriousness or doing what’s required to be done actually belays the fact he’s a very talented player as well.

“He’s taken his speed to a new level, but just his tackling, his organisation in defence and being in the right place at the right time to make the crucial tackle or to straighten up to make a break or get the team on the front foot, it’s not a coincidence.

“That’s timing and wanting to work hard and he’s been a huge part of it.” Hansen will name his team for Saturday’s opening Bledisloe in Sydney on Wednesday morning.

 New Zealand, transfixed by the “fierce rivalry” of the Bledisloe Cup and idolising Stephen Larkham and Jonah Lomu.He sat in the ANZ Stadium stands as an NRL player two years ago for his first live experience, a famous 27-19 upset Wallabies win in front of 73,824 fans.

And now Curtis Rona is in the selection mix to play against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 19 after a “mind-blowing” career twist and just one season of Super Rugby.The brief life and career bio is this.

Born and raised in Waitara — a small town in Taranaki — Rona moved to Perth with his family when he was eight.He was a schoolboy rugby star and a member of the Force academy before defecting to league, representing the Junior Kiwis and chalking up 57 NRL games for the Cowboys and Bulldogs between 2014-16.

Rona’s last game of league was for the New Zealand Maori last year before returning to his Perth family roots and taking up a contract with the Force.“The hotel suits our needs and we don’t think it’s the hotel’s fault.

“In fact we don’t know whose fault it is.“All we know is it (the bug) was there so we’ll continue to do what we always do and be cautious and do the best we can and get on and play rugby.

“That’s what we are, we’re a rugby team.”Hansen was also asked about testimony from witness Charles Carter, owner of The Bug Sweepers company who helped Gard with All Blacks security last year.

Carter told the court that he had discussions with All Blacks staff who believed they had been previously bugged.COACH Michael Cheika is sharpening his axe before revealing the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship squad on Friday.

Cheika’s task has been to whittle down a 42-man training squad that were put through some brutal fitness sessions in Sydney and Newcastle before returning to their home states to freshen up.

To preview Friday’s announcement, foxsports.com.au writers Sam Worthington and Christy Doran have got in early, donned selectors hats and picked their own 34-man squads — the same number used by Cheika in June.

We only picked from players involved in the Wallabies’ train-on camps — which meant no room for the likes of exiled five-eighth Quade Cooper — while Kyle Godwin, Karmichael Hunt, Tolu Latu, Eto Nabuli, James Slipper and Lukhan Tui were not considered due to injury.

Neither was Taniela Tupou — aka the Tongan Thor — given the New Zealand-born Reds prop is not eligible to play for Australia until the end of year tour.The Wallabies open their Rugby Championship campaign with the first Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 19 .source