Dave Rennie has given another chance to those who so nearly bought him a shot at winning back the Bledisloe Cup this weekend, making just two changes to his Wallabies line-up to take on the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Although the Bledisloe Cup will remain on New Zealand soil for a 20th season, Rennie’s side have a lot to play for in the Rugby Championship finale.
The Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since 2001 and not at Eden Park since 1986, both records go on the line on Saturday in what promises to be a spicy match after last week’s controversial two-point win for Ian Foster’s men.
Harry Wilson will play his first Test since the Wallabies’ series defeat against England in Sydney, with the Reds back-rower one of two changes to the pack.
Wilson replaces the injured Rob Leota, who will miss the rest of the year due to an Achilles injury.
While Cadeyrn Neville, the Brumbies lock who made his debut in Perth in July, returning to the second-row in place of Matt Philip, who is also out with injury.
Rennie has otherwise stuck faith with the rest of the side who so nearly pulled off one of the greatest victories in Australian history last Thursday.
The New Zealand coach has unsurprisingly given Bernard Foley another crack in the No. 10 jersey despite the return to health of Noah Lolesio.
Ditto Lalakai Foketi — the inside centre — who replaced Hunter Paisami, who also missed the Bledisloe opener due to a concussion suffered against the Springboks.
There are two changes on the bench, with Angus Bell returning for the first time in five Tests against recovering from a toe injury.
He has been chosen ahead of Exeter-bound Scott Sio.
While Nick Frost comes onto the bench for Darcy Swain, who copped a six-week ban for his “reckless” clean-out effort during Bledisloe I, which left Qunn Tupaea with a season-ending MCL injury.
Wilson faces a defining Test.
The Reds favourite will play his 12th Test after bursting onto the scene in 2020.
But the strong ball-carrying No. 8, who runs great lines, has slipped down the pecking order over the past 18 months, particularly with the emergence of Rob Valetini.
The key for Wilson will be his workrate, as well as how the breakdown operates.
Against England in the series-defining third Test it was a mess, and making sure the Wallabies get quick, clean ball will be just as important as any strong runs he provides with ball-in-hand.
“It’s great to have Cadeyrn available and Harry’s been working really hard to earn another opportunity in the gold jersey, so we’re excited for both of them,” Rennie said.
“The side parked the disappointment of the last Test early in the week and we have plenty to play for in Auckland on Saturday night.
“New Zealand supporters have an expectation that the All Blacks win at Eden Park and we’re excited to get another crack anthem at their spiritual home.”
WALLABIES (15-1): Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Harry Wilson, PeteSamu, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Jed Holloway, Allan Alaalatoa, Dave Porecki, James Slipper (c)
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia
ALL BLACKS (15-1): Beauden Barrett; Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, DaltonPapali’i, Akira Ioane; Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa’i, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, SevuReece
Originally published as Bledisloe Cup: Wallabies name team for Eden Park Test against All Blacks