Sunday 25 February 2018 / 06:51 AM

Cheika rings changes despite RC triumph

Despite last week’s rousing 27-19 victory over the All Blacks in Sydney, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made a whopping six changes to his starting line-up for the Bledisloe Cup decider at bogey ground Eden Park.

Quade Cooper, after some ordinary displays in the gold jersey in 2015 to date, has replaced Bernard Foley at flyhalf, while Nic White’s match-sealing cameo off the bench at ANZ Stadium has been rewarded with the starting halfback spot ahead of Nick Phipps.

Matt Toomua completes an all-new inside-back trio as Matt Giteau – outstanding last Saturday – drops back to the bench, and Henry Speight comes onto the left wing for Drew Mitchell.

Of the demoted backs, only Giteau has been retained in the reserves contingent as Cheika opts for a 6-2 split on the bench.

In the pack, Wycliff Palu returns at No.8 with David Pocock moving back to the bench, despite the success of the Pocock-Michael Hooper double-act. Will Skelton has been recalled to the starting side at the expense of Dean Mumm, who also nabs a reserves spot.

The All Blacks haven’t hit the panic button, but they’ve made a few adjustments and have selected a side as close to what would be regarded as full-strength as we’ve seen this year.

Ma’a Nonu returns in the No.12 at the expense of Sonny Bill Williams in the only change to the backline, while Sam Whitelock returns to partner Brodie Retallick at lock, and in the biggest change, Victor Vito has been named on the blindside, with Jerome Kaino moving back to the bench and Liam Messam dropping out altogether. Nehe Milner-Skudder retains his spot on the wing after a dazzling two-try debut last week.  


1 Scott Sio

2 Stephen Moore (c)

3 Sekope Kepu

4 James Horwill

5 Will Skelton

6 Scott Fardy

7 Michael Hooper

8 Wycliff Palu

9 Nic White

10 Quade Cooper

11 Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc)

12 Matt Toomua

13 Tevita Kuridrani

14 Henry Speight

15 Israel Folau

Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Kane Douglas, Dean Mumm, David Pocock, Matt Giteau, Kurtley Beale.


1 Tony Woodcock

2 Dane Coles

3 Owen Franks

4 Brodie Retallick

5 Sam Whitelock

6 Victor Vito

7 Richie McCaw

8 Kieran Read

9 Aaron Smith

10 Dan Carter

11 Julian Savea

12 Ma’a Nonu

13 Conrad Smith

14 Nehe Milner-Skudder

15 Ben Smith

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Nepo Laulala, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Colin Slade, Malakai Fekitoa. 

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