Wallabies keep winning recipe as Hansen axes top All Blacks - GulfToday

Wallabies keep winning recipe as Hansen axes top All Blacks

Wallabies keep winning recipe  as Hansen axes top All Blacks

The Wallabies in action against the All Blacks during their Bledisloe Cup match in Perth last Saturday. Agence France-Presse

The Wallabies are “hungry” to snap a 17-year Bledisloe Cup drought, coach Michael Cheika warned Thursday as he savours the chance to inflict back-to-back defeats on the All Blacks.

His team stunned the world champions 47-26 in Perth last weekend and head to Auckland needing another win to claim the trans-Tasman silverware for the first time since 2002.

An All Blacks victory would level the series and see them retain the trophy as holders, gaining a psychological edge heading into their World Cup title defence in Japan next month.

“We know we haven’t had it for a long time and we’re hungry to get it, to go there and do our best and try and take the trophy,” Cheika said ahead of the team’s departure from Melbourne, where they have been fine-tuning before Saturday’s blockbuster clash.

“We know we’re going to come up against an excellent opponent who is ready to go as well. That’s why the game is so looked forward to and anticipated.”

Cheika named an unchanged side, apart from one injury-enforced absence, as he looks to build on their record win in the Bledisloe Cup opener.

The only change is Adam Coleman, who will start his first Test of 2019, replacing giant lock Rory Arnold who hurt his hand in Perth, with Rob Simmons among the reserves.

Meanwhile, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insisted he was “loving it” as he axed three senior players and demanded a 200 percent improvement from his forwards in Saturday’s winner-takes-all Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia.

Hansen showed no mercy after last week’s thrashing in Sydney, dumping prop Owen Franks and wings Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane -- a combined total of 213 Test caps -- for the return match at Auckland’s Eden Park.

“They’re not playing so you can say they’ve been dropped,” Hansen said Thursday, with the highly rated trio not even making the bench.

In their place is the relatively raw talent of Nepo Laulala (18 Tests), George Bridge (three) and Sevu Reece (one), as the top-ranked All Blacks bid to avoid relinquishing the annual trans-Tasman trophy for the first time since 2002.

“Obviously, we’d like to see Ben, Owen and Rieko playing better but we’ve made the decision because we’ve got to find out more about these other people in pressure-cooker situations and you don’t get much bigger than this,” Hansen added.

“We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think that the guys we put in aren’t good enough to do the job on Saturday if we play well. I don’t think it’s a risk and there’s lots of reward in it.” Australia need to win on Saturday to end their 16-year Bledisloe Cup title drought, while an All Blacks victory would level the series at 1-1 and keep the trophy in New Zealand.

“I’m loving it. This is the best challenge we could get prior to going to a World Cup,” Hansen said, after the Australians’ record victory in round one.

“We didn’t front up last week and we need to front up this week or it (the trophy) will be going back to Australia.”

The two other changes to the All Blacks’ starting team are the return of Sonny Bill Williams for injured centre Jack Goodhue, while Patrick Tuipulotou replaces suspended lock Scott Barrett.

Hansen is demanding the biggest improvement from his side, with the finger pointed directly at 110-cap lock Sam Whitelock.

Asked how big an improvement he wanted from the tight five, Hansen said: “200 percent. I need Sam Whitelock to lead it. He’s the guy with 100 Tests, he’s the big boy in the pack, you expect those guys to lead.”

Australia (15-1): Kurtley Beale; Reece Hodge, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Christian Lealiifano, Nic White; Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (capt), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto; Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda; Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio; Replacements: Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Liam Wright, Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Adam Ashley-Cooper

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody; Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett.

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