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All Blacks Big Guns Return for Wallabies Clash

The All Blacks have brought in some star names for their first Bledisloe Cup game against the Wallabies

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has confirmed his team to play the Wallabies in their first Bledisloe Cup game as they also hope to retain their Rugby Championship title.

The biggest call is that Ardie Savea has been chosen to play at blindside flanker, alongside Sam Cane on the openside and captain Kieran Read finishing up the loose forwards at No 8.

Elsewhere in the pack, Dane Coles begins the game at hooker, while Scott Barrett makes his first appearance of the international season after overcoming a thumb injury to line-out in the second-row.

His timing is perfect as he takes the place of the injured Brodie Retallick.

In the back-line Aaron Smith partners Richie Mo’unga in the half-backs, with Beauden Barrett continuing at full-back.

Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue join-up in the centre, with Ngani Laumape taking a place on the bench. Sonny Bill Williams isn’t part of the squad as he plays for Counties Manukau over the weekend.

Hansen is delighted with the preparation that his All Blacks have undergone in Australia ahead of their clash in Perth.

“Our preparation this week here in Perth has been very good. We can tell that it’s ‘Bledisloe One’ week as there’s a real sense of purpose in everything we do, and a real desire to do it well. With the extra time together, we’re starting to see an improved clarity of roles out on the training park. We’ll need to take the confidence that comes with that clarity into the Test on Saturday and deliver a game which has high energy, high skill and great decision-making,” he said.

The head coach is also determined for his team to lay down a marker during the Bledisloe Cup and wants his side to earn their right to win the trophy.

“The Bledisloe Cup has always been incredibly important to this team and teams before us. It’s those teams, ourselves, our country and our many fans that inspire and drive us to want to go out and ‘re-take’ the trophy. We’ve never felt that it’s about going out and ‘retaining’ the Cup because it’s always been about earning the right to have it. This Saturday is no different. Both teams will be desperate and hungry for success,” he said.

This weekend’s match will be the first of two Bledisloe Cup games as the Wallabies go in search of their first Cup since 2002 with the All Blacks determined to continue their rivals draught.

As well as being in to win the Cup the All Blacks know they could still win this year’s shortened Rugby Championship if they defeat the Wallabies and South Africa fail to win against Argentina.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

1. Joe Moody (38)

2. Dane Coles (62)

3. Owen Franks (107)

4. Scott Barrett (29)

5. Samuel Whitelock (109)

6. Ardie Savea (36)

7. Sam Cane (61)

8. Kieran Read – captain (119)

9. Aaron Smith (84)

10. Richie Mo’unga (10)

11. Rieko Ioane (25)

12. Anton Lienert-Brown (35)

13. Jack Goodhue (8)

14. Ben Smith (78)

15. Beauden Barrett (75)

16. Codie Taylor (42)

17. Atu Moli (1)

18. Angus Ta’avao (5)

19. Patrick Tuipulotu (22)

20. Matt Todd (18)

21. TJ Perenara (56)

22. Ngani Laumape (11)

23. George Bridge (2)

International

Huge Suspension Handed to Tongan Star

One of Tonga’s main men has been handed a big suspension as he heads back to play club rugby following the team’s elimination from the World Cup

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(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Tongan hooker has been handed a heavy ban after admitting to foul play during the side’s final Rugby World Cup game against the USA on Sunday.

Ngauamo admitted that he kicked an opposition player in the face contrary to Law 9.12 (kicking) during the Sunday’s 31-19 win. 

An independent Judicial Committee in Tokyo sat on Tuesday and after taking into account the situation at hand in which the Tongan player clearly kicked an opponent in the face they decided it would warrant at least a mid-range offence. 

Under World Rugby’s mandatory sanctions a mid-range entry point results in a minimum eight-week suspension, which was handed down to Ngauamo. 

However, after taking into account the player’s admission to the offence at an early stage in proceedings as well as his good disciplinary record up to the offence they chose to take a week off the ban meaning he will serve a seven-week suspension. 

The player is returning to his home country today before jetting back to France where he will return to Top 14 club Agen, but will now be out of selection for seven-weeks meaning he will not feature until around December in what is a huge blow for him and the club.

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Scottish Ace Considering International Future

Following Scotland’s departure from the Rugby World Cup it now looks like one of their key men may have finally had enough

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland star Greig Laidlaw has admitted that he will consider his international future following his side’s exit from the Rugby World Cup.

The Scots were knocked out yesterday following a 28-21 loss to hosts Japan, which coupled with their opening round 27-3 loss to Ireland to leave them with two wins and two losses in the group as they finished third. 

It seems as though this set back could have been enough to push Laidlaw out the door as Scotland continue to falter on the biggest stages. 

“I’ll go away and have a think. Tonight it’s about staying together as a group. Tonight is not about me. I’ll go away and talk to the people I need to talk to and make my decision from there,” he said after the game. 

Having been capped 76 times for his country the 34-year-old is one of their longest serving players and is a regular starter along with being their main place-kicker so his departure would leave a huge void in the team. 

He also admitted that Japan were the better team on the day, applauding their improvement since the last World Cup and saying they were fully deserving of their victory. 

“We knew Japan have really improved as a team since four years ago. We have to give them credit for the way they have progressed and the way we have performed this evening. We gave away two soft tries and we left ourselves with a mountain to climb. They didn’t catch us off guard, we actually started the game pretty well. We got into a lead, we never switched off, but we let Japan into the game,” he added. 

Before the match was even played Japan were ranked higher than their opponents showing how far they have developed and how far Scotland are falling. 

However, following this latest set back and pending on Laidlaw’s decision things could get worse before they start to get better as he could open the flood gates with regards to player departures from the international stage as they seem pretty fed up.

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SA Rugby Issue Statement on Etzebeth

South African Rugby Union have issued a statement regarding star man Eben Etzebeth’s current situation

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(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

South African Rugby Union have issued a statement with regard to forward Eben Etzebeth after reports yesterday claimed that the South African Human Rights Commission plan to take legal action against him.

Etzebeth is at the centre of an allegation claiming that he was involved of in a racist incident as well as it having physical repercussions. The incident is said to have taken place the day before the Springboks Rugby World Cup squad was announced. 

However, the towering second-row has already denied all allegations having been interviewed by the Human Rights Commission before the squad left for Japan. 

Following reports yesterday the Springboks have confirmed in a statement that the Human Rights Commission will proceed with legal action. 

“The South African Human Rights Commission announced on Wednesday that it would institute legal proceedings against Eben Etzebeth in the Equality Court, relating to allegations of an incident in Langebaan in August,” the statement read. 

As well as the statement a Springbok spokesperson has confirmed that they will continue to help with the case as much as possible as they look to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later. 

“SA Rugby reaffirms its commitment as a good corporate citizen to abide by any requirements placed on it or its employees by South African authorities. We have fulfilled all requests to date and will continue to do so as and when advised. Following our discussions with the South African Human Rights Commission we have instituted an internal process to address the matter, the details of which remain an employment matter between SA Rugby and the player,” he said. 

Etzebeth will hope that the case will not require him to return to South Africa before the conclusion of the World Cup in Japan as he is a vital part of the Springboks team that hope to win the whole tournament. 

However, whatever happens his sights will be firmly set on Friday’s clash with Italy, where he has been named among the starting line-up in what could decide who finished second in Pool B and progress to the last eight.

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