Read a preview of the Wallabies v All Blacks and watch a live stream of the clash.
Where: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
When: 11.00 (BST)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky!
Ewen McKenzie faces a supreme challenge in his first Test as Wallaby coach on Saturday – to find a way to end the All Blacks’ decade of Bledisloe Cup dominance.
McKenzie gets his chance after replacing Robbie Deans, who won only three of his 18 Tests against New Zealand and whose reign ended after the British and Irish Lions hammered the Wallabies 41-16 last month to take the three-match series.
The former Queensland Reds coach is looking to uncover players who are not physically and emotionally scarred by being repeatedly mauled by the All Blacks and has included eight newcomers in his Rugby Championship squad, while omitting his most experienced prop, Benn Robinson.
Injuries to Wycliff Palu and Kurtley Beale, the retirement of George Smith, the axing of Robinson and the shift from fly-half to wing of James O’Connor ensure the Wallabies’ side will be decidedly different from the one that started the final Test against the Lions.
“Sometimes you need people that come in fresh who have never lost to the All Blacks and you can build a different mindset around that,” McKenzie said.
“We know that the Wallabies have been quite capable of winning the trophy in the past and quite capable of beating New Zealand.
“It happens, New Zealand do lose games. They lost a big game to England last year — they do lose and we’ve got to make sure we’re the team out there putting the pressure on them.”
Blindside flanker Ben Mowen said Wallabies squad members were impressed by McKenzie’s ideas and the thoroughness of his planning.
“I like the strategies that he’s talking about putting in place,” Mowen said. “The guys as a whole are generally very impressed by him and excited and want to make sure that we start this McKenzie era off on the right foot.”
All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen has turned up the heat by saying the Wallabies will be under intense pressure because of the arrival of a new coach.
“I only have to think back myself to when I had my first Test match as (All Blacks) coach,” Hansen said.
“Whether you want to admit it publicly, there is pressure because there’s a question mark.
“Australia hasn’t had a great run against us for a wee while now. That’s all been attributed to Robbie Deans, which I think is a bit unfair.
“Everyone seems to think Ewen is going to make the difference, so there has to be pressure on him, because what happens if it doesn’t work?”
World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw returns to lead the All Blacks after taking a sabbatical and missing a large chunk of this year’s Super Rugby.
McCaw is in line for his 117th Test cap and is the only All Black player to have played Australia in 30 Tests.
Aaron Cruden replaces the injured Dan Carter at fly-half, while Aaron Smith slots in for dropped scrum-half Piri Weepu.
McKenzie believes Hansen has a few concerns of his own as the All Blacks defend the Bledisloe Cup they have held since 2003, and the Rugby Championship they won last year.
“They’re in transition from what I can see, they’ve got a few selection decisions of their own, working out the positions and where they are in terms of experienced players versus young guys coming through,” McKenzie said, referring to how Hansen is going to manage ageing stars such as McCaw, Carter, Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu.
Elsewhere on the opening day of action in the four-nation Rugby Championship, South Africa play Argentina.
Inspirational skipper Richie McCaw returns to lead the All Blacks against Australia on Saturday, with New Zealand coach Steve Hansen selecting an experienced line-up to face the fired-up Wallabies.
Centre Ryan Crotty, named on the bench, is the only uncapped player in New Zealand’s 23-man squad for the opening Rugby Championship Test in Sydney, with Hansen wary the Wallabies will spring an ambush under new coach Ewen McKenzie.
“With the changing of the guard in the Australian coaching group, it adds a little bit of the unexpected to the challenge,” Hansen said. “Therefore, we need to be ready for anything they chuck at us.”
McCaw returns from a sabbatical which saw him sit out most of this year’s Super 15 season to claim his 117th Test cap, becoming the only player to have ever played Australia in 30 Tests.
His fellow flanker Liam Messam was a late withdrawal after suffering a hamstring strain on Thursday, forcing Hansen to draft in one-Test rookie Steven Luatua at blindside.
Aaron Cruden replaces the injured Dan Carter at fly-half, while Aaron Smith slots in for dropped half-back Piri Weepu.
In the centres, Ma’a Nonu retains his place alongside Conrad Smith despite failing to find a berth with a Super 15 team next season.
Nonu was nursing an ankle problem earlier this week, so Crotty, who was only called into the training squad last Sunday after Frank Saili was injured, will provide cover from the bench.
Veteran Andrew Hore was named as the starting hooker, with Keven Mealamu warming the bench and Dane Coles not making the trip to Sydney.
Julian Savea replaces France-bound Rene Ranger on the wing, earning his 12th Test cap.
New Zealand 15-1
Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Steven Luatua; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty
Jesse Mogg; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, James O’Connor; Matt Toomua, Will Genia; Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Hugh McMeniman; James Horwill (capt), Rod Simmons; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, James Slipper.
Reserves: Saia Faingaa, Scott Sio, Sekope Kepu, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani.