All you need to know ahead of the first test between the All Blacks and the Wallabies at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne (kickoff at 9.45pm):
It’s a rare Thursday night test as the Wallabies host the All Blacks in a crucial Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup clash.
With this time of year in Melbourne being all about the backend of the AFL season and the Melbourne Storm making their usual finals run, the test was scheduled for the first midweek Bledisloe Cup match since 1994.
And it just so happens the game was moved for nothing. The two AFL games this week are in Sydney and an hour down the road in Geelong while the Storm were knocked out of the NRL playoffs last weekend. But the test is set to be a sellout at Marvel Stadium (nee Colonial Stadium/Telstra Dome/Etihad Stadium).
The All Blacks head into the game with a one-point lead atop the Rugby Championship standings over the Springboks, Wallabies and Pumas.
Frenchman Mathieu Raynal is in charge of the test – he was the referee when Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time in the 2016 Chicago test. A better omen for All Blacks fans, they’ve won their other three tests with Raynal including a 54-16 drubbing of Wales in Cardiff last year.
All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (c), Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Tyrel Lomax, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ethan de Groot.
Reserves: Dane Coles, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Quinn Tupaea.
Wallabies: Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Jed Holloway, Allan Alaalatoa, David Porecki, James Slipper (c).
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Pone Fa’amausili, Darcy Swain, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO:Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
It’s the All Blacks against the Wallabies so there’s a little thing (well not so little) called the Bledisloe Cup up for grabs. The Wallabies haven’t had their hands on the trophy since 2003 and have lost three straight tests to the All Blacks.
The All Blacks and Australia last met in Melbourne in 2010, a 49-28 victory to New Zealand. The Wallabies beat the All Blacks down the road at the MCG in 2007 where they don’t have a great record (1-2). The All Blacks are 4-0 under the roof including three wins during the 2003 World Cup.
The last time the All Blacks and Wallabies played a midweek test was in 1994 when George Gregan made an iconic tackle to deny Jeff Wilson from scoring the match-winner in the corner.
Last five tests:
2021: All Blacks 38 Wallabies 31, Perth
2021: All Blacks 57 Wallabies 22, Eden Park
2021: All Blacks 33 Wallabies 25, Eden Park
2020: Wallabies 24 All Blacks 22, Brisbane
2020: All Blacks 43 Wallabies 5, Sydney
Showers in the morning easing throughout the day. High of 18 degrees. Winds northerly 25 to 40 km/h becoming 15 to 25 km/h in the evening. Marvel Stadium is an indoor stadium so this is mainly for the benefit of NZME reporters Liam Napier, Gregor Paul and Elliott Smith.