Rugby Championship News

Milner-Skudder starts for All Blacks against Australia

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New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has named Nehe Milner-Skudder to make his All Black debut this weekend against Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship-deciding Test against Australia at ANZ Stadium, Sydney

Milner-Skudder will start on the right wing and form par of a new back three with Julian Savea is back on the left wing and Ben Smith at fullback in a team with several changes to the side that beat South Africa in Johannesburg last week.

Savea will play his first test of the 2015 Rugby season while Sonny Bill Williams is at 12 and Dan Carter returns at first five-eighth for his 105th Test match.

In the run-on forward pack, Jerome Kaino comes in at blindside flanker while Luke Romano comes in at lock. There are just two changes to the bench, with Nepo Laulala providing tighthead prop cover and Sam Cane coming in to cover the loose forwards.

With three All Blacks centurions amongst them, the All Blacks starting XV boasts 868 Test caps experience with a further 183 on the bench, with an average age of 27.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the team had prepared well this week for the opening Bledisloe Cup Test.

“The Bledisloe Cup is an important trophy for New Zealand rugby and for this team, and Australia is one of our oldest opponents. We are well aware that they have made improvements and that their coach Cheika wants them to be more physical and more consistent.

“Having said that, we are always looking to improve our game and understand that we will have to take a step up from our Ellis Park performance. “

“This means we will need to bring physicality, intensity and accuracy to the occasion. I am picking this to be a brutal contest, and one we are looking forward to. It will be about us implementing our gameplan and skillsets for 80-plus minutes.”

New Zealand

Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles, Owen Franks , Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano , Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (c), Kieran Read , Aaron Smith , Daniel Carter, Julian Savea , Sonny Bill Williams , Conrad Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder , Ben Smith

Replacements : 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Ben Franks , 18. Nepo Laulala , 19. Samuel Whitelock , 20. Sam Cane, 21. TJ Perenara , 22. Beauden Barrett , 23. Malakai Fekitoa

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