Wallabies try to plug holes as All Blacks go for the kill

Wallabies try to plug holes as All Blacks prepare for the kill
Damian McKenzie is one of the most dangerous attacking players in the world. Photo: David Molloy Photography, Wikimedia Commons

After the Wallabies and All Blacks named their respective teams yesterday it was hard to escape the suspicion that Australia are simply trying to fill holes and hope for a miracle while New Zealand smell blood in the water. The Australian side features several out of position players and a number of others rushed back to the side, while the All Blacks look to have a clear game plan.

Australia have named Israel Folau at outside centre, as expected, along with rushing Sefa Naivalu into the starting line-up at winger. With Tatafu Polota-Nau unavailable Folau Faingaa has been put in at hooker, while Allan Alaalatoa has swapped places with Taniela Tupou to come into the starting side. Adam Coleman has withdrawn late with a groin strain, so Rob Simmons is replacing him.

Samu Kerevi has come onto the bench after only playing two sevens games since overcoming a bicep injury, while Jack Dempsey has played most of the NRC season and is also contending for a bench spot (either he or Pete Samu is likely to be omitted from the named 24 man squad).

The All Blacks, meanwhile, have named a very attacking oriented squad. Damien McKenzie has come in at fullback, moving Ben Smith to the wing, so the Wallabies can expect to have one of the best counter-attackers in the world running back at them when they kick – alongside arguably the best in fly-half Beauden Barret.

TJ Perenara is starting at half-back instead of the less attacking oriented (but safer all-round player) Aaron Smith. Man-mountain Sonny-Bill Williams will also be running straight at the new centre pairing of Folau and Kurtley Beale, who will be dangerous in attack but look fragile in defence.

These selections suggest that the All Blacks will look to blow Australia off the park early in the match. With the speed in the New Zealand backline any turnovers will be punished severely, so the Wallabies will need to be more conservative in attack than they have been so far this year, as well as stronger in defence. The All Blacks are heavy favourites for this game, while the Wallabies need a decent showing to avoid putting more pressure on their coaching team.