New Zealand stick to winning formula for Bledisloe
Sydney (AFP) –
Coach Ian Foster has kept changes to a minimum in the All Blacks team to play Australia in this weekend's third Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney, where the New Zealanders will seek an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Foster made just three changes to his run-on side, handing number eight Hoskins Sotutu his starting debut, welcoming back veteran lock Sam Whitelock and recalling prop Karl Tu'inukuafe.
Whitelock returns after missing New Zealand's Auckland Test victory with a concussion, the same injury that has kept Joe Moody out of Saturday's fixture, opening the way for Tu'inukuafe.
Sotutu, used off the bench in the opening two Tests of the series, comes in for Ardie Savea, who is on paternity leave.
"He's had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he's ready to go," Foster said.
"He's excited. It's a chance to start his first Test so it's pretty special for him."
Foster kept the experimental backline that secured the All Blacks a 27-7 win in Auckland, with Beauden Barrett preferred over brother Jordie at fullback and Richie Mo'unga at fly-half.
Jordie Barrett starts on the right wing with Caleb Clarke, who made a sensational debut start in Auckland, looking to again rampage down the left sideline.
On the bench, Tyrel Lomax comes in for Nepo Laulala, who is also on paternity leave, while loose forward Dalton Papalii and centre Ngani Laumape make their first squad appearances this year.
Utility back Rieko Ioane replaces Damien McKenzie.
While the All Blacks have held the Bledisloe since 2003, they have not had to wrap up the series in Australia since 2009 and Foster said it was an exciting prospect for his players.
"None of our players, even our experienced ones, have had to win the trophy in Australia," he said.
"In the past the deciding game has always been in New Zealand, so I think it's a great challenge for us."
New Zealand (15-1)
Beauden Barrett; Jordie Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue, Caleb Clarke; Richie Mounga, Aaron Smith; Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (capt), Shannon Frizell; Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu; Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe.
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Scott Barrett, Dalton Papalii, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane.
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