By Adam Ellis
Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium will host the final trans-Tasman Test of 2017 between Australia and New Zealand, with the All Blacks victorious in both Rugby Championship meetings.
Steve Hansen watched his side beat the Wallabies 54-34 in Sydney in Round One of the competition, and in heading to Queensland for this international Test the All Blacks coach has handed a start to Lima Sopoaga at fly-half.
Despite Beauden Barrett being available for selection, Hansen has decided not to risk the 26-year-old who suffered a head injury against South Africa a fortnight ago.
Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder was also injured in the Test at Newlands Stadium and the Hurricanes flier will be replaced by Waisake Naholo after undergoing surgery on his shoulder earlier this week.
Likewise for Australia, Reds lock Izack Rodda will not be able to play in front of his home crowd after seeing his season ended by requiring shoulder surgery.
In Michael Cheika’s only enforced change Rob Simmons will fill the void to partner Adam Coleman in the second row.
Former Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore is in line to earn his 125th cap in his last Test for his country before retiring. The Brumbies hooker signalled his intention to call time on his career back in July and has tasted victory just five times in 30 matches against the All Blacks.
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Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s second most capped Test player affirmed his focus on the game at hand rather than seeking early celebrations.
“I’ve just been trying to get on with the preparation for this Test and doing my job really well, so I’ve tried to put everything else to one side,” Moore, 34, said.
“What’s important is the performance of the team in a game like this. We want to go out there and get the job done in front of our home fans and that’s all I’ve been thinking about.”
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia; 1 Scott Sio, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Sekope Kepu 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper (capt), 8 Sean McMahon.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight.
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Kane Hames, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Nepo Laulala, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 5 Scott Barrett, 6 Liam Squire, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Kieran Read (capt).
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 David Havili.
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