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‘Expect a massive challenge’: Ardie Savea to captain All Blacks against Wallabies

By Finn Morton
Ardie Savea. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Backrower Ardie Savea will lead the All Blacks into a Bledisloe Cup battle on Saturday night with regular skipper Sam Cane failing to overcome a neck injury.


Cane was replaced at half-time against the Springboks in Auckland earlier this month, and it was later revealed that the flanker has sustained a neck strain during the 35-20 win.

Savea, who has captained the All Blacks before, will take up the leadership role against the Wallabies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In Cane’s absence, Dalton Papali’i will start at openside.

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The rest of the starting side remains unchanged, although there are some differences in the reserves. Anton Lienert-Brown returns from suspension, and veteran Samuel Whitelock is back after an injury spell.

Ofa Tuungafasi is also back in the mix after missing the Test against South Africa, and Hurricanes halfback Cam Roigard is in line to debut after being named in the No. 21 jumper.

“This is a special Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship Test, which doubles as the opening Bledisloe Cup clash of the year,” coach Ian Foster said in a statement.

“This trophy means so much to both countries and we expect a massive challenge on Saturday.



“As the final Rugby Championship Test, there is much at stake in the game.

“We have learned a lot from two stern Tests so far this year and there is huge excitement about playing Australia at this iconic game.”

Preparing to play in front of about 80,000 fans at the most well-known stadium in Australia, the All Blacks have named a star-studded side.

Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor and Tyrel Lomax have retained their spot in the front row, while Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett round out the tight five.

Shannon Frizell – who was compared to legendary flanker Jerome Kaino after the win over South Africa – will start at blindside. Frizell will link up with Papali’i and captain Ardie Savea in a formidable loose forward trio.


Veteran Aaron Smith joins Richie Mo’unga in the halves, and “world-class” talent Jordie Barrett is just outside them at inside centre. Barrett will combine with Rieko Ioane in the midfield once again.

Mark Telea starts on the left wing, with electric outside back Will Jordan lining up on the right. Beauden is the third and final Barrett brother in the starting side – retaining his spot at fullback.

The All Blacks take on the Wallabies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday evening.

All Blacks team to take on Wallabies

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Codie Taylor
  3. Tyrel Lomax
  4. Brodie Retallick
  5. Scott Barrett
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Dalton Papali’i
  8. Ardie Savea (c)
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Richie Mo’unga
  11. Mark Telea
  12. Jordie Barrett
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Will Jordan
  15. Beauden Barrett


  1. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  2. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Samuel Whitelock
  5. Luke Jacobson
  6. Cam Roigard
  7. Anton Lienert-Brown
  8. Caleb Clarke

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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