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The Wallabies selection that surprised an All Black

Australia sing the national anthem during the Bledisloe Cup match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor says he was surprised to see Australia’s ‘Tongan Thor’ named on the bench for last week’s Bledisloe Cup flogging, and he’s expecting the Wallabies to come out fighting in Saturday’s re-match.


Powerful prop Taniela Tupou didn”t come on until the 54th minute of Saturday’s 43-5 loss to New Zealand in Sydney.

By that stage the scoreboard already read 26-5, setting the scene for the All Blacks to snare the Bledisloe Cup for a record 18th straight year.

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“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Taylor said of Tupou’s bench role after the Wallabies enforcer started in the first two Bledisloe Cup encounters.

“He’s a pretty powerful specimen on the field, he’s pretty hard to stop. He’s a bit of a beast.

“I’d say their angle there was to bring him on and be a bit of a game changer with impact, with his ability with the ball and at scrum time.”

Tupou is a chance to replace Allan Alaalatoa in the starting line-up for Saturday’s Test in Brisbane, which also doubles as the second Tri Nations fixture.


Australia could also make a host of other changes, with the return to fitness of James O’Connor set to provide more stability at flyhalf.

The Wallabies were gutsy in the 16-16 draw with the All Blacks in Wellington last month, but they have been unable to match it with NZ in the two matches since.

The record loss in Sydney was Australia’s heaviest defeat to the All Blacks in 117 years, with criticism of the Wallabies coming thick and fast.

Taylor is bracing for the Wallabies to respond strongly in Brisbane.


“I expect them to throw everything at us.,” he said.

“I talked to (Wallabies captain Michael) Hooper after the game and he was pretty disappointed.

“He’s also very confident in his men and the way Dave Rennie’s coaching them. He says there’s something special there.

“When you’re hearing that from a team that’s lost, you’ve got to stay on your toes because they are still confident of what they can achieve and where they want to get to.”

– Justin Chadwick

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The Wallabies selection that surprised an All Black