All Blacks v Wallabies: Three starting changes in All Blacks team to face Australia in first Bledisloe Cup test

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The All Blacks have made a slight forwards reshuffle in an otherwise steady team to face the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe Cup test of the year at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

Captain Sam Cane will lead the side in a loose forward trio which has undergone forced changes for Thursday’s test.

Scott Barrett replaces the injured Shannon Frizell at blindside flanker, while Hoskins Sotutu is set to feature at No 8 for what will be his 11th test and first of the 2022 season, with Ardie Savea staying behind in New Zealand for the birth of his baby.

Barrett’s move to the side of the scrum sees 96-test lock Brodie Retallick brought back into the run-on side where he will re-join long-time second row partner Samuel Whitelock.

The backline remains unchanged after the side’s win over Argentina in Hamilton.

In the only change to the reserves, Akira Ioane has been brought in to provide cover alongside fellow specialist loose forward Dalton Papali’i.

If called upon, Dane Coles will play his 84th test match, surpassing Andrew Hore (83) as the third most-capped test hooker in All Blacks history, behind Sean Fitzpatrick (92) and Keven Mealamu (132).

“We can’t wait to kick off what should be a fantastic Rugby Championship test, which doubles as the opening Bledisloe Cup clash of the year,” said All Blacks head coach Ian Foster. “We are incredibly driven to keep hold of this trophy which means so much to both countries.

“And when you factor in how tight this year’s Rugby Championship is, all signs point towards another great test match here in Melbourne.”

Thursday will be just the fifth time the All Blacks have played against Australia in Melbourne – the last one taking place in 2010.

This series also marks 90 years since the Bledisloe Cup was first presented in 1932.

All Blacks team to face Australia:

1.Ethan de Groot (8)
2.Samisoni Taukei’aho (15)
3.Tyrel Lomax (18)
4.Brodie Retallick (96)
5.Samuel Whitelock (138)
6.Scott Barrett (54)
7.Sam Cane (84) – captain
8.Hoskins Sotutu (10)
9. Aaron Smith (109)
10.Richie Mo’unga (39)
11.Caleb Clarke (9)
12. David Havili (20)
13.Rieko Ioane (54)
14.Will Jordan (19)
15.Jordie Barrett (43)

Reserves:

16.Dane Coles (83)
17 George Bower (18)
18.Fletcher Newell (3)
19.Akira Ioane (17)
20 Dalton Papali’i (16)
21.Finlay Christie (10)
22.Beauden Barrett (107)
23 Quinn Tupaea (13)

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