Australia rugby coach Robbie Deans said his squad must move on from last week’s drought-breaking win in South Africa after making one change for this weekend’s final Tri-Nations match against New Zealand.
Lachie Turner replaces injured winger Drew Mitchell in the only change to the starting lineup from the 41-39 triumph in Bloemfontein, Australia’s first victory over the Springboks on South Africa’s Highveld region since 1963.
“We can’t afford to continue to live in that moment,” Deans said today. “While the players are aware of the history that was associated with that performance, they are also aware of the significance of playing the All Blacks.”
Australia will seek to avoid an unprecedented 10th straight loss to New Zealand in two days at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium. The Wallabies’ most recent win over its oldest international rival was at the same venue two years ago, when they prevailed 34-19.
The All Blacks, who made five changes including picking Aaron Cruden at fly-half in place of the injured Dan Carter, have already clinched the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup titles and are close to several records.
A 15th straight victory for New Zealand would see Graham Henry’s team become the first to win all six matches in a Tri-Nations tournament. If the All Blacks score more than 18 points, they’ll eclipse their own series record of 179 points in 2006.
Cruden, whose five previous Test appearances have come off the bench, is joined by winger Israel Dagg, scrum-half Piri Weepu, prop Owen Franks and back-row forward Victor Vito as the changes to the team that started last month’s 29-22 win over South Africa in Soweto.
New Zealand won 49-28 when the teams met in Melbourne on July 31 and then secured the annual trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup for the eighth straight year the following week with a 20-10 victory in Christchurch.
Still, the All Blacks expect an increased attacking threat from a Wallabies team that’s improved since those encounters, said assistant coach Wayne Smith.
“In terms of their attack they offer a much tougher proposition for our defense than any other challenge we’ve had this year,” Smith told reporters yesterday. “They’re playing a lot better in attack now than they did the last couple of times we played them. That’s going to be the challenge for us.”
AUSTRALIA: Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau, Lachie Turner, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (captain), Nathan Sharpe, Mark Chisholm, Salesi Ma’afu, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson.
Replacements: Huia Edmonds, James Slipper, Dean Mumm, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Anthony Fainga’a.
NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Israel Dagg, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Victor Vito, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Corey Flynn, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Jerome Kaino, Jimmy Cowan, Colin Slade, Rene Ranger.