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Michael Cheika not going to make same mistake as in 2015, names almost unchanged side for Bledisloe decider

Adam Coleman. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Wallabies are embracing their hunger to bring home the Bledisloe Cup and the challenge coming from the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.


Australia will return with the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002 if they can end their 33-year hex at Eden Park with a win or a draw.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said there had been times in the past when they had tried to pass off a Bledisloe Cup decider as just another game.

Australia won or drew the first Test in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015 but came up well short in the subsequent Tests to ensure the coveted trophy remained in Kiwi hands.

After retaining the same line-up which trounced the All Blacks 47-26 in Perth, apart from Adam Coleman replacing injured lock Rory Arnold, Cheika said they were no longer shying away from one of rugby’s toughest tasks.

“The Bledisloe Cup means a lot when you have it and a lot when you don’t have it and that pursuit of trying to get it, Cheika said on Thursday.

“Sometimes you sit off and try to defer it and say, ‘It’s just another game’ but that’s only hiding from the fact.


“We haven’t had it for a long time and we’re hungry to go there and do our best to try and take the trophy.

“We know we were going to come up against an excellent opponent who’s going to be ready to go as well.”

While Arnold was ruled out with a hand injury, Cheika said the decision to keep the same starting XV was an easy call.

“It was pretty straightforward – we wanted to give those guys another opportunity,” he said.

“We made a few changes in the first couple of games so why not try and back those guys up – they are hungry for it.”


Among the three changes to the bench, uncapped flanker Liam Wright replaces Luke Jones, with the return date for injured star David Pocock pushed back to their Test against Samoa.

Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper, 35, replaces Tom Banks as outside backs cover and will make his first Wallabies appearance of the year, and play his 118th Test if called upon.

It is the second-most experienced bench in Wallabies history, boasting 474 combined caps.

In 2015 when the Wallabies won their first Test in Sydney to position themselves for a Bledisloe Cup win, Cheika made sweeping changes with the World Cup in mind and the outcome was a heavy loss.

He said because of the changes he made in the early Rugby Championship games he didn’t feel they needed to experiment further.

“If I think back to then (2015) we probably didn’t change as many players in the first couple of games … you just go with feel,” Cheika said.

“There’s so much logic these days, so much data sometimes you’ve got to go with feel and it just felt right to go with the same team more or less and let them build on what they did last week and in all the training they’ve done.”

Eden Park has proved an Australian rugby graveyard since 1986, when the Wallabies last tasted victory.

Cheika said they weren’t hiding from the hoodoo.

“There’s no point in hiding from anything – we know that that’s a big challenge but if you want to make change, one person has to start to say, ‘this is going to change’ and then next person will join him.

“You’re allowed to understand the history of the event, the game, the trophy and the venue and not be worried about it.

“The way I see it, it’s a privilege to be a part of.”

Wallabies: Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Reece Hodge, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (c), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio. Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Liam Wright, Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Adam Ashley-Cooper.


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