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PREVIEW: All Blacks v Fiji

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Steinlager Series ends on a high in Hamilton as the All Blacks face an incredibly physical and skillful Fijian side who will be eager to improve on the 57-23 score line from Dunedin last week.

Match details: All Blacks v Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05pm (NZT), FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

Played: 6

First game: All Blacks 74, Fiji 13 (27 May 1987)

Last game: All Blacks 57, Fiji 23 (10 July 2021)

Referee: Damon Murphy

FIJI NO SURPRISE PACKAGE

While Fiji’s strong performance in the first Test came as a surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to the All Blacks according to first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga. “We knew what we were going to get and for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand public who don’t watch European rugby, these guys are rock stars over there,” Mo’unga said. Despite a hampered build-up to the first Test with some players not coming out of MIQ until the week of the Test, Fiji pressured the All Blacks in many facets of the game and trailed by just eight points with 20 minutes to go. Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter believes his side can get even better with another week of preparation under their belt. “The ingredients are there, a brave performance…you can build something from that,” Cotter said.

ARDIE AND ANTON MILESTONES

It will be a night to remember for Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown who both bring up 50 Tests for the All Blacks. Both players debuted in 2016 as youngsters and have quickly become regular starters and leaders in the All Blacks. Lienert-Brown said it was even more special for him to celebrate the milestone in Hamilton. “This region is probably the reason I am here. It has given a lot to me so to do it at FMG Waikato Stadium is special so I am very grateful.”

BREAKDOWN CHALLENGE

Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone. Assistant Coach Brad Mooar outlined a simple formula to success at the breakdown: “I think it’s more about just winning the race, beating the opposition to the breakdown, making good decisions and execution as a ball carrier, supporters’ anticipation, and getting into that breakdown,” Mooar said.

STATCHAT

This will be the All Blacks 600th Test in the team’s rich history. The first All Blacks Test match was against Australia way back in 1903.

COACH’S CHAT

Hear from All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster on the 23 players named to face Fiji in Hamilton.

WATCH

Watch the action live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and click HERE for international broadcast details.

TEAMS

 

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)

Reserves: 16: Dane Coles (76) 17: Ethan de Groot (1) 18: Angus Ta’avao (15) 19: Brodie Retallick (82) 20: Shannon Frizell (13) 21: Brad Weber (8) 22: Beauden Barrett (90) 23: Rieko Ioane (35)

Fiji:

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Kitione Kamikamica, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Teti Tela, 23. Manasa Mataele.

Source – All Blacks Rugby


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Boks want to change fortunes against England

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The Springboks are determined to change history as they go in search of their first victory over England at Twickenham in eight years in their final Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match on Saturday, and both captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said they are expecting a hard grind of a match.

The Boks last beat England at Twickenham in 2014 and since then they have come marginally close, suffering one-point defeats in their last two matches at the renowned stadium.

With the team having shown that they are on the right track after being narrowly pipped by the two top ranked teams in the world (Ireland and France) before defeating Italy convincingly, the Boks have all the motivation they need to finish their tour on a high note this weekend.

“The rivalry between the teams goes way back,” said Stick.

“It’s hard to win here and the stadium has a rich history. A lot of people who have played here haven’t won. It’s going to be another tough game tomorrow and both teams will give everything they have in a in a packed stadium.

“So I’m really I’m really looking forward to it and the boys are ready for it too.”

Kolisi shared Stick’s sentiments and said their comprehensive 32-12 victory against England in the Rugby World Cup final in 2019 was a distant memory.

“2019 was a long time ago,” said Kolisi.

“A lot of the guys that were there then are no longer here, so this match is different. We can’t look at that as motivation.

“We lost here last year, so we don’t have to look too far. This is a new group of players and we are want to make the country proud.”

Stick said regardless of the result on Saturday, there were a lot of positives the Springboks could take out of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

“It’s always our goal is always to win, irrespective of who we play against, so this is an important game for us,” said Stick.

“There are a lot of positives we can take out of the tour irrespective of the results tomorrow. We got a lot of answers from playing against the No 1 and No 2 teams in the world, and we came close in those games. We are also pleased with the way we developed in our game.”

Stick added: “We believe we are in a good space building toward the World Cup, but that said we haven’t beaten England here for the past eight years, so it’s going to be a massive game.”

With England staging a dramatic comeback last week to register a 25-25 draw against New Zealand, Kolisi said the tempo of their game would be vital.

“We all saw how they came back last week, so we know how big this challenge is going to be,” said Kolisi.

“That said, all we can focus on is our intensity and how we start the game. We know it will take a strong 80-minute effort.”

The match kicks off at 19h30 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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Donaldson to start in Wallabies final Test of 2022

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NSW Waratahs playmaker Ben Donaldson will start at flyhalf for the first time in Wallaby gold against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon (local time).

With a number of players unavailable following the three-point loss to world number one Ireland, Dave Rennie and the selection group has made seven changes to the starting XV.

Former Junior Wallaby, Donaldson will partner with club captain Jake Gordon who starts at scrumhalf for the side’s final Test of 2022.

A new-look backrow sees Langi Gleeson also earn his first Test start at number eight in place of the injured Rob Valetini, while Fraser McReight comes in for Michael Hooper at openside flanker, with Jed Holloway rounding out the loose forward trio at blindside flanker.

James Slipper will lead the side as loosehead prop in his 127th appearance for his country, partnering with long-time Brumbies teammates Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa in the front row.

The athletic Nick Frost will be looking to continue his breakout debut season at international level, starting at lock alongside workhorse Cadeyrn Neville for the fourth time this year.

Melbourne Rebels stalwart Reece Hodge will again showcase his incredible versatility, named at inside centre for the first time in the Test arena since 2016, partnering with Len Ikitau who will again wear the familiar number 13 jersey in the midfield.

After an impressive performance off the bench in Dublin, Jordan Petaia earns a start on the right wing, linking with Tom Wright who is selected at fullback, while Mark Nawaqanitawase completes the back three on the left edge.

Lachlan Lonergan has been named as the finishing hooker with Force front rower Tom Robertson the replacement loosehead while Rebels journeyman Sam Talakai is in line to become Wallaby number 963 after being selected for a potential debut off the pine as the tighthead cover.

Coonamble-raised Ned Hanigan returns to the game day squad with the versatile Pete Samu selected to cover the backrow, a role he has filled with great impact so far in 2022.

Queensland captain Tate McDermott returns to the side to provide spark as the replacement scrumhalf, while Noah Lolesio will be the finishing playmaker. Jock Campbell rounds out the matchday 23 as the back three cover.

The Wallabies are looking to win at Principality Stadium for the first time since 2017.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “Ben has had a great year. He’s been impressive at training around his skillset and detail and has earned his opportunity to start for his country this week.”

“It’s a special occasion for Sam and his family. Over the past five weeks he’s impressed us with his diligence and work ethic and deserves the chance to debut on Saturday.

“We’re well aware of a Wales side that will be looking to respond after last week but we’re equally as motivated to finish our season on a positive note here in Cardiff.”

Every Wallabies Test from the 2022 Spring Tour will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport.

Wallabies team to play Wales at Principality Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday 27 November, 3:15pm GMT/2:15am AEDT (Sunday)

  1. James Slipper (c) (126 Tests)
  2. Folau Fainga’a (37 Tests)
  3. Allan Alaalatoa (63 Tests)
  4. Nick Frost (8 Tests)
  5. Cadeyrn Neville (7 Tests)
  6. Jed Holloway (9 Tests)
  7. Fraser McReight (9 Tests)
  8. Langi Gleeson (2 Tests)
  9. Jake Gordon (19 Tests)
  10. Ben Donaldson (1 Test)
  11. Mark Nawaqanitawase (2 Tests)
  12. Reece Hodge (61 Tests)
  13. Len Ikitau (25 Tests)
  14. Jordan Petaia (24 Tests)
  15. Tom Wright (22 Tests)
    Replacements
  16. Lachlan Lonergan (7 Tests)
  17. Tom Robertson (30 Tests)
  18. Sam Talakai*
  19. Ned Hanigan (27 Tests)
  20. Pete Samu (32 Tests)
  21. Tate McDermott (20 Tests)
  22. Noah Lolesio (16 Tests)
  23. Jock Campbell (3 Tests)
    *denotes uncapped

2022 Spring Tour Fixtures

Wallabies 16 defeated Scotland 15, Sunday 30 October at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh

Wallabies 29 defeated by France 30, Sunday 6 November at Stade de France, Paris

Wallabies 27 defeated by Italy 28, Saturday 12 November, at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

Wallabies 10 defeated by Ireland 13, Saturday 19 November at Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Wallabies v Wales, Sunday 27 November, 2:15am AEDT at Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


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Hooper ruled out of Wales Test

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The Wallaby’s nightmare run of injuries has continued with flanker Michael Hooper ruled out of Sunday’s Test against Wales with a concussion.

It comes just days after six players were ruled out of the series finale in Cardiff after picking up knocks during the three-point defeat to Ireland.

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The legendary backrower presented with concussion symptoms following the Test and was ruled out on Monday according to Wallabies officials.

Hooper will return home to Australia on Thursday, with the Wallabies yet to confirm the line-up.

“We’re gutted for any guy we lose but Taniela in particular, he’s had a fair run of injuries this year and genuinely put in the hard yards to try and get himself best available and find that form which he’s known for,” backrower Jed Holloway told reporters regarding the injury crisis on Tuesday before the Hooper news dropped.

“To see him go down the way he did was pretty gut-wrenching but we know our medical staff here and doing everything they can to get the boys ready.

“We’ve just had a rough trot but we need to lick our wounds and go again because we’ve got a big Test at Principality this weekend. What the injuries provide is a huge opportunity for guys coming in and those guys need to take it and we need to get a result.

“…They’re hard to train for because they are outliers, you have to trust those guys know the gameplan we’re trying to play and go out there and execute and they know the game plan wherever they play. Jordy (Petaia) is a great example there, thrown in after three minutes and came on and killed it. We lost a lot of guys but I think those that came on killed it.”

Both Holloway and outside back Jordan Petaia stressed the importance of the side ‘switching off’ away from the field, conscious of the mental toll five back-to-back Tests can have on a side.

“It’s just finding those moments when to switch off and not think about Rugby so when you are on the training paddock or in the meetings, you are 100% on,” Holloway believes.

“That’s important after a long season because if you are constantly thinking about Rugby, you’ll burn out. Taking those opportunities and really being in the moment is super important.”

“It’s definitely a longer stretch of games with the five games instead of three on tour (in 2021 and 2018) so it’s been a bigger toll on the body and mentally,” Petaia added.

“If you are on all the time, it can be draining so making sure you are taking the time to switch off is good for the final legs of the tour.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


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