Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has named James O’Connor in the centre for his side’s Rugby Championship game in Perth on Saturday.
O’Connor is one of four changes and will make his first start in six years for the Wallabies when he lines out at outside centre for the men in green and gold.
The former ‘bad boy’ takes the place of Tevita Kuridrani as Cheika looks to bring some creative spark in the midfield to break down the All Blacks.
Elsewhere, Folau Fainga’a has dropped to the bench with Tolu Latu stepping into the starting XV, while Allan Alaalatoa takes the place of Sekope Kepu at tighthead prop, with Kepu dropping out of the squad.
The only other change to the side is that Lukhan Salakaia-Loto comes into the back-row alongside captain Michael Hooper and Isi Naisarani.
Once again David Pocock misses the game however, the good news for Wallabies fans is that Cheika is confident that he will be ready for action next week.
“He has trained all week with the team, slightly modified but this is the most he has done with the team so he is getting very close. He will train fully with the team today and I am hoping he will be available next week,” he said.
The Wallabies clash with the All Blacks serves as their final game in this year’s shortened Rugby Championship campaign as well as being the first of two Bledisloe Cup matches between the sides.
There is a slim chance that the Wallabies could still win the Rugby Championship title if they beat the All Blacks and Argentina do them a favour and defeat South Africa, meaning it is all still to play for this weekend.
Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.
1. Scott Sio (56 Tests)
2. Tolu Latu (13 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (32 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (19 Tests)
5. Rory Arnold (21 Tests)
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (13 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (93 Tests)
8. Isi Naisarani (2 Tests)
9. Nic White (24 Tests)
10. Christian Lealiifano (20 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (21 Tests)
12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (27 Tests)
13. James O’Connor (45 Tests)
14. Reece Hodge (35 Tests)
15. Kurtley Beale (85 Tests)
16. Folau Fainga’a (9 Tests)
17. James Slipper (88 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (13 Tests)
19. Adam Coleman (31 Tests)
20. Luke Jones (4 Tests)
21. Will Genia (102 Tests)
22. Matt To’omua (44 Tests)
23. Tom Banks (4 Tests)
DHL Super Rugby Pacific 2023 draw announced
DHL Super Rugby Pacific’s full potential will be unleashed in 2023 with the announcement of a schedule that will ignite trans-Tasman and Pasifika rivalries like never before.
The defending DHL Super Rugby Pacific champion Crusaders will kick the competition off against the Chiefs during an opening round that focuses on traditional rivalries, while also breaking new ground as the Waratahs christen the brand new Allianz Stadium in Sydney against the Brumbies.
Opening weekend will also see Pasifika pride on the line as Moana Pasifika host the Fijian Drua at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland in what will be the start of historic campaigns for last year’s two competition newcomers. The Drua will play six home matches in Fiji, while Moana Pasifika will take a home match to Apia in what will be the second* Super Rugby game in Samoa and a first for Moana Pasifika.
The final fixtures of the opening weekend will see the Highlanders host the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, the Hurricanes travel to Brisbane to play the Reds, and the Force host the Rebels in Perth.
Round 2 is the previously announced Super Round at AAMI Park in Melbourne where all 12 teams will gather for a high-stakes festival of rugby.
The 2023 draw will see all 12 teams play a total of 14 matches during the regular season, 11 round-robin fixtures plus three additional rivalry matches which will see each team play a home and away series against three other teams. Family friendly afternoon kick-offs are a feature of the draw with 24 daytime matches in total with all 91 matches live and exclusive on Sky, including the eight-team finals series, which kicks off in the second weekend of June.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby and Performance, Chris Lendrum said:
“There is a real feeling that DHL Super Rugby Pacific is ready for take-off after a successful, but COVID disrupted inaugural season. We saw massive potential on the field in 2022, but also some huge challenges off it, so to have a fully integrated and uninterrupted draw in 2023 is great news for the players and the fans. I think we are going to see one of Super Rugby’s most competitive seasons.”
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Andy Marinos said:
“Being able to play regularly in front of home fans, and to travel across the Tasman and around the Pacific is massive for the competition, especially for fans, who can support their teams through a full home schedule. Everyone saw what Super Rugby Pacific had to offer in its first season and all 12 clubs have taken that excitement into the off-season and will be primed for a shot at the title in 2023.”
Key features of the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific draw:
· Each team plays 14 regular season matches
· Round 1 features traditional rivalry fixtures
· The Waratahs will host the Brumbies in the first ever fixture at the new Allianz Stadium in Sydney
· Round 2 is the Super Round in Melbourne
· All teams play all other teams in the competition
· All teams play three extra ‘rivalry’ games which create home and away mini-series
· All teams will have their byes between Rounds 7, 8 & 9
· Top eight teams reach the finals
DHL SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC AT A GLANCE
Season opener: Crusaders v Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
Format: 12 teams: Moana Pasifika, Fijian Drua, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders, Waratahs, Reds, Force, Brumbies, Rebels
14 regular season matches = 11 round-robin matches + 3 rivalry matches
One bye round per team (all byes in Rounds 7, 8 & 9)
Season Length: 18 weeks = 15-week regular season + three-week eight-team playoff series
Total Matches: 91
Super Round: Round 2, Friday-Sunday 3-5 March @ AAMI Park Melbourne.
Rivalry matches: Each team plays three teams twice (one at home match, one away match per rivalry)
· Blues: Rivalry opponents are the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Crusaders
· Chiefs: Rivalry opponents are the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders
· Crusaders: Rivalry opponents are the Blues, Chiefs and Moana Pasifika
· Highlanders: Rivalry opponents are the Blues, Force and Chiefs
· Hurricanes: Blues, Chiefs and Moana Pasifika
· Moana Pasifika: Hurricanes, Highlanders and Fijian Drua
· Fijian Drua: Moana Pasifika, Reds and Waratahs
· Force: Highlanders, Reds and Rebels
· Reds: Fijian Drua, Force and Brumbies
· Rebels: Force, Waratahs and Brumbies
· Waratahs: Fijian Drua, Rebels and Brumbies
· Brumbies: Reds, Rebels and Waratahs
* The Blues played the Reds in Apia in 2017, as part of the Super Rugby competition.
Boks win but come up short in title chase in Durban
The Springboks finished the Castle Lager Rugby Championship like they started it, with a win – this time by 38-21 (halftime 17-7) over Argentina – but they failed to score the points needed to dethrone New Zealand as champions of the Southern Hemisphere, in front of a packed house of 45982 people at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban.
After the All Blacks beat the Wallabies by 40-14 in Auckland on Saturday morning, the Boks had to win with a bonus point and a points’ difference of at least 39, and they failed on both accounts, but still finished the competition with four wins from six games, the same as New Zealand.
The Boks dominated the first half and built up a well-deserved 17-7 lead but Argentina never allowed the home side to run away with proceedings and managed to stay in the fight throughout, although their discipline got the better of them as illustrated by the four yellow cards dished out to the visitors for an assortment of transgressions, while the Boks had two men sent to the sin bin in a stop-start affair that was played in tricky conditions.
Experienced lock Eben Etzebeth thought he had scored when he went over in the 10th minute, however, he received the ball from an offside position in the maul and the try was ruled out.
Not long thereafter, Pumas flank Marcos Kremer was yellow carded for offside play with the Boks on the attack. The green and gold jerseys finally got onto the scoreboard through hard-working No 8 Jasper Wiese, who had the simple task to dot the ball down from a powerful Bok scrum.
Steyn’s conversion handed the home side a well-deserved 7-0 lead at the halfway mark of the opening half. With the Boks making Argentina sweat on defence and piling on the pressure upfront, Juan Martin Gonzalez was also sent to the sin bin for repeated offsides, while Willie le Roux was held up on the whitewash in the next movement.
However, the South Africans kept piling on the pressure and it was no surprise when skipper Siya Kolisi went over following another powerful lineout maul to hand his side a 14-0 lead.
Steyn, playing at flyhalf for the Boks for the first time since 2008, then slotted a long range penalty kick to make it 17-0.
However, the South Americans scored their first try on the stroke of halftime through scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou, which Emiliano Boffelli converted to make the score at the break 17-7.
The Pumas came back strongly in the second half and Juan Martín González got their second try seven minutes after the restart as he raced past Le Roux to score out wide. When Boffelli slotted the difficult conversion, he narrowed the deficit to 17-14.
Both teams then made numerous changes, with the Springboks sending on Duane Vermeulen and Kwagga Smith, amongst others, in an effort to continue their dominance upfront. The Bok forwards then forced their first penalty try as they mauled powerfully towards the Argentine goal line, and Jeronimo de la Fuente was issued a yellow card his indiscretion during that movement.
Etzebeth was then yellow carded for dangerous play, with both sides now playing with 14 men and with rain falling down, the Boks had to fight hard to keep their 24-14 lead intact.
However, the Boks were then down to 13 men when replacement scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was shown yellow for a cynical offence, which stopped a goal-bound Argentine maul.
Matias Moroni then scored out side, with Boffelli’s conversion pulling the Pumas back to within three points and time running out on the clock, but the Boks still had some gas left in the tank and got themselves into a strong field position.
Launching yet another maul at the Argentinean tryline, Pumas reserve prop Joel Sclavi also got his marching orders after trying to stop a maul illegally, and the Boks were awarded a second penalty try in the process, which allowed the South Africans some breathing space with the score now 31-21 in their favour and less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
With time up, replacement wing Kurt-Lee Arendse was sent over for the Boks’ fifth try – and his second in only his third Test – with speedsters Makazole Mapimpi and Canan Moodie both featuring prominently. Steyn added the extras for the Springboks to record their fourth win of the campaign.
Springboks 38 (17) – Tries: Jasper Wiese, Siya Kolisi, Penalty tries (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse. Conversions: Frans Steyn (3). Penalty goal: Steyn.
Argentina 21 (7) – Tries: Gonzalo Bertranou, Juan Martín González, Matías Moroni. Conversions: Emiliano Boffelli (3).
All Blacks finish home season in style
Applied All Blacks pressure, delivered with unrelenting intent, overcame an Australian effort that bordered on the desperate, even undisciplined, in the 40–14 win in the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship at Eden Park.
The win left South Africa with the challenge of not only beating Argentina but overcoming a points differential of 39 points, to deny the All Blacks the Rugby Championship title.
The win extended New Zealand’s record to 23 consecutive wins over Australia at the ground since 1986.
Outstanding efforts by the front rowers Tyrell Lomax and Ethan de Groot highlighted the application of the All Blacks pack with locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock marking their world record-equalling 63rd Test together with huge contributions.
New Zealand was better at the breakdown taking 15 turnovers to six while Australia were forced to make 127 tackles to 112 by the All Blacks, who conceded only 12 penalties to 16 by Australia.
Jordie Barrett made his case for more consideration at second five-eighths in the future with a powerful display that committed the Australian defence time and again.
Wing Will Jordan was elusive, especially in the first half, but limped from the field with a leg injury 67 minutes into the game.
Wing Caleb Clarke was safe in coping with high balls kicked in his area, making the tactic redundant, but still employed.
Two early yellow cards, to lock Jed Holloway and hooker David Porecki, were the last thing Australia needed if they were to vent their frustration from the manner of the Melbourne Test defeat 10 days ago.
Up 17-0 at the turn, the All Blacks struck first in the second half when Whitelock scored beneath the posts. Hooker Codie Taylor was able to score in an All Blacks lineout maul and, when he was replaced by Samisoni Taukei’aho, he marked his revival with another driving maul, with four of the backline joining to power the ball over the line.
Australia had the satisfaction of two tries toward the end. The first, created from a partial chargedown of a clearing kick, and giving replacement hooker Fainga’a Folau the chance to score. And on fulltime, Jordan Petaia got over after an Australian penalty kick to the corner resulted in the play moving to midfield where the chance came after another period of torrid All Blacks defener.
New Zealand were not as efficient as they might have wanted in the first quarter, their inability to take chances costly while also allowing Australia the chance to mount their own challenges. That forced the All Blacks to make 25 per cent more tackles in that quarter.
But once they were able to string their moves together, they played at a tempo that Australia couldn’t match. It was that man, Jordan who gave the All Blacks a stunning try, almost from the restart after first five-eighths Richie Mo’ounga opened the scoring with a penalty goal.
Outstanding set-up provided by Jordan in a lineout play and support from flanker Dalton Papali’i, the ball emerged with fullback Beauden Barrett in the line and feeding Jordan who rounded his marker with a superb burst of speed to run in the try.
The Australians infringed and after the All Blacks kicked towards the goal-line they mounted a thrilling driving maul which was taken down by Porecki, resulting in a penalty try, and 10 minutes off the field for the offender.
It was a desperate first half for the Wallabies. They had a try denied when wing Marika Koroibete stepped on the sideline before diving for the line, while on another occasion the ball was held up.
They had plenty of time in the All Blacks’ 22m area, and while receiving penalties rather than opting to kick for goal, they attempted tap penalties or kicked to the corner.
None of the tactics brought reward as sterling home defence held them out.
Some of the defence was frightening in its severity. The Australians attempted to batter down the ramparts but they proved solid and, for the first half at least, impenetrable.
It seemed that whatever they tried whether bullocking runs or high kicks to the All Blacks rearguard the home team were up to the task when it mattered.
Scorers: New Zealand 40 (Will Jordan, Sam Whitelock, Codie Taylor, Samisoni Taukei’aho tries; Penalty try; Richie Mo’unga 2 con, 2 pen) Australia 14 (Folau Fainga’a, Jordan Petaia tries; Bernard Foley con; Reece Hodge con). HT: 17-0
DHL Super Rugby Pacific 2023 draw announced
Team news: Side for Tuesday Cup clash
Saints sign Bristol forward on loan
What rugby is on and where to watch it October – December
Six Nations 2020 – Fixtures & TV Schedule
Farrell Names Ireland’s Six Nations Squad
URC3 days ago
Munster issue statement regarding Chris Farrell
Premiership5 days ago
RFU issue statement surround Worcester future
International1 week ago
SA Rugby statement
Premiership3 days ago
London Irish confirm 2022/23 captain
URC1 week ago
Highlights | Cardiff v Munster
Premiership6 days ago
Duo join on loan from Edinburgh Rugby
Premiership1 week ago
TEAM NEWS | Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks
Premiership5 days ago
Team News | Retired players rally to Warriors’ cause