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PREVIEW: All Blacks v Australia First Test (Marvel Stadium)



The Bledisloe Cup is back on the line in 2022 when the All Blacks face Australia at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium in a crucial Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship clash on Thursday night.

Match details: All Blacks v Australia, Thursday 15 September, 9.45pm NZT, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne


Played: 173

Won: All Blacks 120, Australia 45, Drawn 8

Last time: All Blacks 38, Australia 21 (5 September 2021)

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)




The Wallabies sent a warning shot across the bow of the All Blacks early this week when world-class wing Marika Koroibete stated that the key to beating the All Blacks was through ‘brutality’. The 30-year-old speedster said that Australia will need to pour the pressure on the All Blacks from the outset to win the game. “Just contest on the ruck. Everyone across the park needs to bring that physicality, dominate the tackle and test their ruck,” Koroibete said. “Just bring aggression on Thursday…That’s what the South Africans and Argies [Argentina] did to them when they won. That’s what we need to bring.”


Captain Sam Cane will lead the side in a loose forward trio which has undergone forced changes with Shannon Frizell out injured and Ardie Savea remaining in New Zealand for the birth of his third child. Scott Barrett has been selected at blindside flanker, while Hoskins Sotutu is set to feature at number eight for what will be his 11th Test and first of the 2022 season. Barrett’s move to the side of the scrum sees 96-Test lock Brodie Retallick brought back into the run-on side where he will re-join long-time second row partner Samuel Whitelock. In the only change to the reserves, Akira Ioane has been brought in to provide cover alongside fellow specialist loose forward Dalton Papali’i.


An unfortunate run of injuries in the first five department for the Wallabies has led to a recall for 71-Test veteran Bernard Foley for the first time since 2019. 32-year-old Foley will combine with Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon at halfback to square off against the All Blacks duo of Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga. Foley has been plying his trade for Kubota Spears in Japan and will take inspiration from David Knox who was called into the Wallabies squad in similar circumstances back in 1994 for the famous mid-week victory at Sydney Football Stadium. Utility Reece Hodge will provide first five cover on the bench for Australia.


With just one point separating all four teams on the ladder the Rugby Championship is the tightest it has been in recent memory. Thursday night’s clash will be crucial to both team’s title hopes and have big ramifications on the Bledisloe Cup. A win for the All Blacks will keep the team in pole position on the ladder and ensure the Bledisloe Cup stays on New Zealand soil for an incredible 20th year. If Australia prevail in Melbourne, then the return clash at Eden Park takes on even more importance with both the Bledisloe Cup and the Rugby Championship on the line.


The opening Bledisloe Cup Test of 2022 will also mark the first time the All Blacks have met the Wallabies in Melbourne since 2010. The teams have squared off four times in Melbourne previously with the win ledger locked at 2-2. The game will also mark a rare mid-week Test for the sides. The last time the teams squared off in a midweek Test, the Wallabies come out on top 20-16 in 1994 with George Gregan pulling off an infamous tackle on Jeff Wilson to secure victory late in the match.


TEAMS (Test caps in brackets):


All Blacks


1.Ethan de Groot (8) 2.Samisoni Taukei’aho (15) 3.Tyrel Lomax (18) 4.Brodie Retallick (96) 5.Samuel Whitelock (138) 6.Scott Barrett (54) 7.Sam Cane © (84) 8.Hoskins Sotutu (10) 9.Aaron Smith (109) 10.Richie Mo’unga (39) 11.Caleb Clarke (9) 12.David Havili (20) 13.Rieko Ioane (54) 14.Will Jordan (19) 15.Jordie Barrett (43)


RESERVES: 16.Dane Coles (83) 17.George Bower (18) 18.Fletcher Newell (3) 19.Akira Ioane (17) 20.Dalton Papali’i (16) 21.Finlay Christie (10) 22.Beauden Barrett (107) 23.Quinn Tupaea (13)




1: James Slipper (c) (121) 2: David Porecki (5) 3: Allan Alaalatoa (58) 4: Jed Holloway (4) 5:Matt Philip (26) 6: Rob Leota (12) 7: Pete Samu (26) 8: Rob Valetini (25) 9: Jake Gordon (14) 10: Bernard Foley (71) 11: Marika Koroibete (49) 12: Lalakai Foketi (2) 13: Len Ikitau (19) 14: Tom Wright (16) 15: Andrew Kellaway (16)


RESERVES: 16: Folau Fainga’a (31) 17: Scott Sio (73) 18: Pone Fa’amausili (1) 19: Darcy Swain (15) 20: Fraser McReight (6) 21: Nic White (54) 22:Reece Hodge (59) 23: Jordan Petaia (20)

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


Eddie upbeat for ‘intriguing’ World Cup



Eddie Jones admits the Wallabies are in the chasing pack but still close enough to catch the favourites and win September’s Rugby World Cup.

Jones, after a 15-minute technical glitch, gave his first wide-ranging interview from England on Thursday after his shock appointment on Monday.


He said the battle to wear the No.10 jersey in France was wide open, touched on the side’s ill-discipline and current eligibility laws, assessed the health of the code in Australia and had a neat return-of-serve to rugby league powerbroker Peter V’landys in the latest code-war chapter.

But when asked if he genuinely thought the inconsistent world No.6 side could win the World Cup this year, he was serious.

“There’s no long term; the whole thing is to win the World Cup in 2023,” said Jones, who is on a five-year contract.

“We have to concentrate on areas that will make the biggest difference to the performance of the team and we have to get selection right.
“And we’ve got to create an environment where players are going to give that little bit more, because nobody knows how much they can give.”

Jones will have just five Tests to prepare his men before the Cup and he turned to racing parlance to assess the current power rankings.

He says feels there’s still time for the field to settle with the team who improves the most between now and October set for victory.

“At the moment France and Ireland, in a horse race they’re at the front on the top of the rise,” he said.

“But there’s still plenty of work to do.

“Australia and England are nestled behind them and the team that improves the most over the next nine months will win the World Cup.

“This is the most intriguing World Cup we’ve ever seen.

“Throw in the volatility of the refereeing at the moment with red and yellow cards.

“You’ve got all these things happening that give us this massive opportunity.”

He said every player would have a chance to “select themselves” in club rugby and that replacing Rennie before his contract was to expire at the end of this year wasn’t in his control.

“I wasn’t thinking, ‘I can do this better than Dave, or, I’m a better person’, it’s not that at all,” he said.

“It’s the fact that there was an opportunity there that as an Australian when you get a chance to coach your country you want to do it, mate.”

In a boost for James O’Connor’s hopes after he was cut from Rennie’s extended squad, Jones said he’d base selection on Super Rugby Pacific form and keep an eye on his foreign-based playmakers.

But Jones admits time isn’t on his side when it comes to settling on a preferred partnership, with rival five-eighth Quade Cooper’s recovery from an Achilles tear counting against him.

“We are going to have to decide quite quickly who we think are the best nines and tens and 12s, particularly, to try and build up that cohesion,” he said.

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby

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6 Nations

England team to face Scotland in Six Nations opener



Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his England debut at left wing, Max Malins returns to the side at right wing and Freddie Steward is named at full back.

Owen Farrell captains the side from inside centre and is joined in the midfield by Joe Marchant. Marcus Smith is at fly-half with Jack van Poortvliet at scrum half.

The front row is made up of vice-captain Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler with Jamie George at hooker. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum start at lock, while Ben Curry makes his second appearance for England at open-side flanker. Lewis Ludlam and Alex Dombrandt complete the back row.

Jack Walker is in line to make his England debut after being named as a substitute, Anthony Watson could make a first England appearance since March 2021, and if Dan Cole comes off the bench he will earn a 96th Test cap.

Mako Vunipola, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs and Ollie Lawrence make up the remaining replacements.

“There are few fixtures in the rugby calendar that excite both players and supporters alike more than the annual Six Nations meeting of the Auld enemy as they battle for the honour of lifting the Calcutta Cup,” said Borthwick.

“Another packed Twickenham will witness the start of the next chapter of English rugby in one of the most keenly contested tournaments in the world. There is no doubt this England team shares the supporters’ sense of eager anticipation.

“To a man, the players are determined to play with the commitment, fight and desire that is at the very heart of representing England, the sort of passion that our tremendous supporters rightly expect.”

England Match Day Squad


15. Freddie Steward

14. Max Malins

13. Joe Marchant

12. Owen Farrell (C)

11. Ollie Hassell-Collins

10. Marcus Smith

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge (VC)

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Ollie Chessum

6. Lewis Ludlam

7. Ben Curry

8. Alex Dombrandt


16. Jack Walker

17. Mako Vunipola

18. Dan Cole

19. Nick Isiekwe

20. Ben Earl

21. Ben Youngs

22. Ollie Lawrence

23. Anthony Watson

Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

Scotland name team to face England in 2023 Guinness Six Nations Opener



Head coach Gregor Townsend has named his squad to face England in the opening fixture of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations this Saturday as Scotland bid to retain the Calcutta Cup.

Leading his side in the championship for the first time, blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie is joined at openside by Luke Crosbie, whose excellent recent form is rewarded with a second start for Scotland, with Matt Fagerson completing the back row.

In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist, who is named as Vice Captain, resume a partnership that impressed during last year’s Autumn Nations Series.

Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is a 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen WP Nel – who reached 50 caps in November – selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.

In the back division, scrum-half Ben White will link up with stand-off Finn Russell, a year on from his try-scoring debut in the Calcutta Cup at BT Murrayfield.

Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing, the former having scored his first tries for Scotland in November’s win over Argentina, with the latter having notched no fewer than four tries against England in as many games against them.

In the back three, Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at full-back, with Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.

Townsend has selected a bench with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs, with Glasgow Warriors clubmates Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan and Jack Dempsey, alongside Jonny Gray, listed as pack replacements. George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Harris complete the matchday squad as substitute options.

Scotland team to face England in the Guinness Six Nations opener on Saturday, 4 February at Twickenham, kick-off 4.45pm, live on STV and ITV

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps

14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
9. Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps
3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – Vice Captain – 59 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – Captain – 36 caps
7. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps


16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
19. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
20. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps

Tickets for Scotland’s match against Italy at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 18 March are still available HERE

Images & Content – Scotland Rugby

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