Wednesday 23 August 2017 / 08:32 AM

McKenzie names unchanged line-up

Ewen McKenzie has named an unchanged line-up for the Wallabies’ critical showdown with the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, sticking solid with his side that drew 12-all with the world champions in Sydney in the opening match of the Rugby Championship.

Kurtley Beale has been afforded another chance in the contentious No.10 jersey, while McKenzie applauded his charges’ attacking endeavour despite the atrocious conditions at ANZ Stadium.

“We were impressed with the pressure we were able to apply in the opening Test and, despite some errors, were pleased with the intent of the group to continue attacking despite the poor weather conditions,” McKenzie said in a press release.

“I imagine both teams are excited by the prospect of a dry evening in Auckland on Saturday night, which will have an influence on the way the game is played.

“For us, we know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack.”

Fine and cool weather is forecast for Auckland from Thursday, and free-running Wallabies Beale and Israel Folau will relish a dry track. But Sydney’s big wet arguably held the All Blacks back more, with backline guns Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Julian Savea starved of genuine attacking chances.

The prospect of playing the full 80 minutes with 15 players will also increase the hosts’ pointscoring capacity. Meanwhile, Conrad Smith is likely to return at centre for Fekitoa after missing the first Test to be at the birth of his first child.

However, the Australian forward pack would have drawn plenty of confidence from last weekend’s stalemate, matching their vaunted New Zealand counterparts in the loose and at the set piece.

The Wallabies must win – or hold the All Blacks to another draw – to keep their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive ahead of the final clash at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in October.

WALLABIES TEAM

1. James Slipper (vc)

2. Nathan Charles

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Sam Carter

5. Rob Simmons

6. Scott Fardy

7. Michael Hooper (c)

8. Wycliff Palu

9. Nic White

10. Kurtley Beale

11. Rob Horne

12. Matt Toomua

13. Adam Ashley-Cooper

14. Pat McCabe

15. Israel Folau

Reserves

16. James Hanson

17. Pek Cowan

18. Ben Alexander

19. Will Skelton

20. Scott Higginbotham

21. Nick Phipps

22. Bernard Foley

23. Tevita Kuridrani

24th man: Ben McCalman

New Zealand v Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, 5.30pm (AEST) Saturday 23 August.

 

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