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Rugby Championship: New Zealand v Australia preview

Last Updated: 23/08/14 11:21am

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New Zealand host Australia at Eden Park on Saturday looking for revenge after the Wallabies prevented them gaining outright possession of the world record for most consecutive Test wins.

The opening game of the 2014 Rugby Championship ended in a 12-12 stalemate between the sides in Sydney, the first draw between the teams in 12 years.

The All Blacks saw their 17-match winning run end with the draw and Steve Hansen’s side will be smarting from the loss of their winning streak – and the chance of making history.

But the hosts will fancy their chances at Eden Park, where they have not lost since a 23-20 defeat to France back in 1994.

The Wallabies have only won four of their 25 matches at the venue – the last of those four victories coming in 1986 – while the All Blacks have not tasted defeat against Australia since 2011 in Brisbane.

Hansen admits he was disappointed with the performance in Sydney and he is looking for the world champions to bounce back in front of a home crowd after an intensive week of training.

"While we were disappointed with the draw last weekend, we are excited by the opportunity that presents itself this weekend,” Hansen said.

“It's another Test match against Australia, the chance to win the Bledisloe Cup and the first home Test of the Investec Rugby Championship in front of our home fans.

"We have been working hard on all aspects of our game this week and there's a definite resolve to improve the quality of our performance on Saturday."

Ruled out

Experienced All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu and back-row forward Jerome Kaino have been ruled out of the game with shoulder and elbow injuries respectively.

But Conrad Smith has recovered from injury and comes into the team in place of Malakai Fekitoa at outside centre, while Ryan Crotty is promoted from the bench to replace Nonu at inside centre for his first Test start.

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Liam Messam has been selected at flanker in place of the injured Kaino and prop Charlie Faumuina is back on the bench after illness.

The Wallabies have announced an unchanged 23-man line-up, with Head Coach Ewen McKenzie believing they deserved another chance after pushing the All Blacks so close.

He told Australia rugby's official website: “For us, we know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack.

“Selection is never easy, although we’ve made a lot of tough decisions in this space over the past 12 months with the ultimate goal of winning games.  You’re always looking to improve and I’m confident the sum of those hard choices has put us in a better position today.

“While we didn’t quite get there on Saturday night, I do know that we’ve made good progress since our first Test against New Zealand a year ago. 

“That gives us some confidence heading into what will be an extremely tough challenge in Auckland on Saturday night.”

Regarding the All Blacks' 20-year undefeated record at Eden Park, McKenzie added: “Sporting records are there to be broken and we’ll look forward to the opportunity of playing the All Blacks in their own backyard on Saturday night.”

New Zealand: 15 B Smith, 14 Jane, 13 C Smith, 12 Crotty, 11 Savea, 10 Cruden, 9 A Smith; 1 Crockett, 2 Coles, 3 O Franks, 4 Retallick, 5 Whitelock, 6 Messam, 7 McCaw (capt), 8 Read.
Replacements: 16 Mealamu, 17 B Franks, 18 Faumuina, 19 Luatua, 20 Cane, 21 Perenara, 22 Barrett, 23 Fekitoa.

Australia: 15 Folau, 14 McCabe, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 12 Toomua, 11 Horne, 10 Beale, 9 White, 1 Slipper, 2 Charles, 3 Kepu, 4 Carter, 5 Simmons, 6 Fardy, 7 Hooper (c), 8 Palu.
Replacements: 16 Hanson, 17 Cowan, 18 Alexander, 19 Skelton, 20 Higginbotham, 21 Phipps, 22 Foley, 23 Kuridrani.

Watch New Zealand take on Australia in Auckland on Saturday live on Sky Sports 3 HD from 8.00am.

Get a Sky Sports Day Pass and watch the Rugby Championship without a contract.

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