Same side set for AAMI Park blockbuster
Qantas Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named an unchanged 23 for the second Test of the Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series. Cheika resisted the urge to tinker with a winning formula for the clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne despite the return of flanker Ned Hanigan (knee injury) and lock Rory Arnold (suspension).
Saturday night’s Test will be the first time Cheika has named an unchanged 23 for back-to-back matches in his 46 games in charge of the Qantas Wallabies, after taking the reins in November 2014. The Wallabies will persist with a six-two split amongst the finishers, with rain and wind forecast in Melbourne on Saturday.
Australia lead the three-Test series heading into Melbourne, after an 18-9 win at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium last Saturday night. Ireland last played the Wallabies in Melbourne in 2008 when the Wallabies won 18-12 in a tight tussle at the then-Colonial Stadium.
The Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series is the first-ever three Test Series between the two nations despite them having faced-off in 34 Tests over their 90-year history.
1. Scott Sio (44 Tests)
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa (1 Test)
3. Sekope Kepu (92 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (5 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (21 Tests)
6. David Pocock (67 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (80 Tests)
8. Caleb Timu (1 Test)
9. Will Genia (89 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (56 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (9 Tests)
12. Kurtley Beale (72 Tests)
13. Samu Kerevi (19 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (19 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (63 Tests)
16. Tolu Latu (5 Tests)
17. Tom Robertson (19 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (2 Tests)
19. Rob Simmons (83 Tests)
20. Lukhan Tui (5 Tests)
21. Pete Samu (1 Test)
22. Nick Phipps (62 Tests)
23. Reece Hodge (25 Tests)
All Blacks Also Unchanged
The matchday 23 is unchanged from the one that beat France 52-11 in the opening Steinlager Series Test in Auckland last weekend.
In explaining the unchanged selection, All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "As we have a big focus right now on developing our game and working on our skillsets, connections and combinations, it isn't beneficial to be making wholesale changes, if any at all, to the playing 23.
"Whilst we were really happy with the way we finished last weekend's Test, we're fully aware that we still have a lot of work to do over the rest of the Steinlager Series.
"The French would've taken a lot of confidence out of their first 50 minutes on the weekend and will be coming to play on Saturday night. Therefore, it will require us to raise our game to an even higher level.
"Rather than being inhibited by this, we'll be embracing and walking towards the challenge. We'll be looking to play our own high-energy game with real intent. When it comes to our performance, we know there are high expectations from our fans. This, in turn, demands that we drive our own expectations even higher.
Steve Hansen said the All Blacks were excited to be playing another Test match in the capital.
"The team loves the Test match atmosphere in Wellington and we're looking forward to Saturday night. On behalf of the team I want to thank all our fans for their ongoing support."
1. Joe Moody (32)
Mtawarira reaches century of Springbok caps
Tendai Mtawarira will make his 100th Test appearance for South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday in the second Test in the Castle Lager Incoming Series against England, becoming only the sixth Springbok to reach this special milestone. Kick-off at the Toyota Stadium is at 17h05.
The 32-year-old Mtawarira, better known as “Beast”, is the first Springbok prop to reach a century of Test caps and he joins an elite group of only seven props who have made 100 or more Test appearances.
Mtawarira will anchor the Springbok scrum in his milestone Test alongside hooker Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe, who makes a return to the front row after a lengthy absence due to injury.
Malherbe’s inclusion is one of only two changes in the starting team that beat England 42-39 last weekend in Johannesburg. He replaces his DHL Stormers team mate Wilco Louw. The other change sees Pieter-Steph du Toit returning to the starting fifteen in the No 7 jersey, with Jean-Luc du Preez moving to the bench.
Mtawarira made his Springbok debut exactly 10 years against Wales, on 14 June 2008 in Pretoria at the age of 22. The following year he was an instrumental figure in the Springbok tight five as he helped to steer the South Africans to a memorable 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions.
15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England, 42)