Schoolboy teammates face off as Bledisloe rivals

Sydney (AFP) –


All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue says old ties will count for nothing this weekend as he attempts to ruin former high-school teammate Irae Simone's Test debut for the Wallabies in Sydney.

The pair formed a strong centres partnership playing schoolboy rugby together at Auckland's Mount Albert Grammar in 2013, when their team won 17 of its 20 matches.

Goodhue said they had an "awesome" time playing together but their paths diverged when Simone headed off to Australia to try his hand at rugby league.

Now the 25-year-olds will confront each other as Bledisloe rivals, and Goodhue said he would be holding nothing back.

"It'd be good to have bragging rights over my old midfield partner, it'll be special 100 percent," he told reporters, saying Simone was also "up for it".

Goodhue has 25 Test caps after working his way through the ranks of the renowned Canterbury rugby nursery in the South Island and making his international debut in late 2017.

Simone's path to a Wallabies jersey has been less conventional, not least because he is New Zealand-born -- yet professes to be a life-long Wallabies fan -- and moved across the Tasman after high school.

His dreams of rugby league success were dashed after an unsuccessful stint at the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and he spent two years on the fringes at the NSW Waratahs as an understudy to Kurtley Beale.

He finally established himself at the ACT Brumbies, helping them to this year's Super Rugby AU title and catching the eye of new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

Goodhue said Simone had "added a lot to his game" but warned his former teammate and fellow Wallabies debutant Noah Lolesio should expect a torrid time.

"We've got to be on them and try to make their debuts as hard as possible for them," he said.

Goodhue said he was familiar with Simone's game and jokingly accused him of shirking defensive duties when they played together.

"He would always say 'Jack, he's yours, you make the tackle!' -- he was a good player though," he said.

Goodhue was innocence personified when asked if he would be giving Simone a little niggle as the New Zealanders seek an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test Bledisloe series.

"I don't have a bad bone in my body," he deadpanned. "I wouldn't know what to say if I tried to get some banter out there -- I'd probably say 'good carry'."