Australia will be out to prove their thrashing of New Zealand last weekend was no flash in the pan when they attempt to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 17 years on Saturday.

The Wallabies went on to crush the All Blacks 47-26 at Optus Stadium after Scott Barrett was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Michael Hooper.

That victory was not enough for Australia to win the Rugby Championship, with South Africa taking the title for the first time in a decade by beating Argentina later in the day.

Michael Cheika's men can still get their hands on a trophy ahead of the World Cup, though, as a famous win at fortress Eden Park will see them end a long wait to lift the Bledisloe Cup.

We take a look at a selection of key Opta facts for the trans-Tasman showdown in Auckland.

 

- Australia will be out to secure consecutive wins over New Zealand for the first time since a three-match streak in 2000-01.

- New Zealand have won their last 18 Tests against Australia at Eden Park and have not lost to the Wallabies at the venue since September 1986.

- The world champion All Blacks are winless in their last two Tests, having drawn against South Africa last month, and have not endured a longer run without a victory since a five-match losing streak in July-August 1998.

- Beauden Barrett has now scored 11 tries against Australia, the joint-most of any player against a single Tier 1 nation in Test history.

- Samu Kerevi made the most offloads (six) of any player in the Rugby Championship, one more than Australia team-mate Kurtley Beale and New Zealand’s Ben Smith.

- Australia have won only two of their last 10 Tests played away from home, those victories coming against Italy in Padova and Argentina in Salta in late 2018.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has no doubt over his team's hunger to regain the Bledisloe Cup as they prepare to face New Zealand again.

Cheika's side shocked the All Blacks in Perth last weekend, claiming a 47-26 victory in the first of two Bledisloe Cup matches this year, with the return fixture taking place in Auckland on Saturday.

New Zealand's defeat saw them surrender their grip on the Rugby Championship title, while they must win at Eden Park to retain the Bledisloe Cup, a trophy the Wallabies have not held since 2002.

Cheika told a news conference: "The Bledisloe Cup means a lot. It doesn't just mean a lot when you have it, it means probably more when you don't have it.

"That pursuit of trying to get it sometimes you sit off and you sort of defer it and say we'll take the game in our stride.

"But that's only hiding from the fact that we know we haven't had it for a long time and we're hungry to go there and do our best to try and take a trophy obviously.

"We know we're going to come up against an excellent opponent who is going to be ready to go as well and that's why I suppose the game is so looked forward to and anticipated."

Cheika's sentiments were echoed by Australia captain Michael Hooper.

"I said it last week, these are the games you want to be a part of and even a level up again this week for some of the stuff," Hooper said.

"It's just an amazing opportunity to be involved in. You go down to a place where many a generation of Wallabies hasn't won down there.

"You're coming up against a great New Zealand side for some silverware on the line, yeah it's fantastic being on the other receiving end and it certainly ups the hunger."

The Wallabies have just one further match ahead of the Rugby World Cup following the clash with the All Blacks, as they face Samoa in a friendly on September 7.

Warren Gatland challenged Wales to "step it up" as he named Dan Biggar as one of three changes to his starting line-up for the World Cup warm-up match against England on Saturday.

Wales missed the chance to replace New Zealand at the top of the rankings when they were beaten 33-19 by an experimental England side at Twickenham last weekend.

Gareth Anscombe suffered a knee injury which will keep him out of the World Cup in Japan as Eddie Jones' men ended the Grand Slam winners' 14-match winning run.

Biggar comes in at fly-half to replace Anscombe, while flanker James Davies and lock Jake Ball come in for the injured Adam Beard and Justin Tipuric in Cardiff.

Fit-again flanker Josh Navidi was named among the replacements, but scrum-half Tomos Williams (shoulder) remains sidelined.

Wales head coach Gatland said: "We were disappointed to get the loss last weekend, so it is important we step it up on Saturday and put in a big display in front of a packed Principality Stadium.

"The squad are looking forward to getting back out there, taking another step towards the Rugby World Cup and putting in a big performance."

Wales team to face England on Saturday: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Aaron Wainwright, James Davies, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi, Aled Davies, Jarrod Evans, Owen Watkin.

Eddie Jones has reminded his England squad "nothing has been achieved" heading into Saturday's World Cup warm-up match with Wales.

England claimed a 33-19 victory over the Six Nations champions on Sunday, and they face Warren Gatland's side again in Cardiff as World Cup preparations click into gear.

Ruaridh McConnochie - included in Jones' 31-man World Cup squad - will make his England debut at the Principality Stadium, while the visitors will be without the injured Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.

Although England's performance against Wales last Sunday was impressive, Jones says his side know they must keep stepping up their levels as the Japan-hosted tournament, now only five weeks away, draws closer.

"The squad has been progressing well this week and I think there is a realisation among the squad now that the hard work really starts, nothing has been achieved," Jones said.

"Our selection strategy for our second game is similar to the first, so a bit of a mix-and-match approach. We are looking at different combinations and have a particular strategy for this game.

"The game is very much about ourselves preparing for the World Cup and we are respectful that we have got such strong opposition at their home ground."

Lewis Ludlam will make his second consecutive start, moving to openside as Courtney Lawes comes into the back row, covering for Curry, while Maro Itoje starts in place of Charlie Ewels, who did not make the cut for the World Cup.

Jones' assistant Scott Wisemantel is confident McConnochie can thrive on his debut.

"He deserves his chance and it was unfortunate last week that he had that minor blow," Wisemantel told a news conference.

"But I think in Cardiff on Saturday where it will be quite intense, he'll settle into a rhythm and then he'll be fine."

England team to face Wales: Elliot Daly; Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Maro Itoje; Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, George Kruis, Jack Singleton, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi.

Adam Coleman has replaced Rory Arnold in the only change to the Wallabies' starting side as they look to win the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand on Saturday.

Arnold is out due to a hand injury, with Coleman set to make his first Test start of the year when Australia visit Eden Park.

The Reds' Liam Wright could make his debut off the bench, while Rob Simmons has also been named among the reserves.

The Wallabies are also boosted by the inclusion of Adam Ashley-Cooper, named for his first Test of 2019.

Australia stunned the All Blacks 47-26 in Perth and are on the verge of winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

However, New Zealand are unbeaten in their past 42 matches at the Auckland venue – a run that dates back to 1994 – and the Wallabies have lost 22 straight games away to their rivals.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White; Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.
Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Liam Wright, Will Genia, Matt To'omua, Adam Ashley-Cooper.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has shown his ruthless side by making big changes to his team for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup redemption mission against Australia.

New Zealand were dealt a 47-26 thumping by the Wallabies last weekend in Perth, and Hansen has dropped prop Owen Franks and wings Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane for the rematch in Auckland.

He has been pressed into two further changes, with lock Scott Barrett suspended after his red card in the first game and centre Jack Goodhue injured.

Into the pack come Nepo Laulala and Patrick Tuipulotu, with the backs given a shuffle with the inclusion of George Bridge, Sonny Bill Williams and Sevu Reece.

Anton Lienert-Brown keeps his place for the Eden Park tussle but shuffles from inside to outside centre to accommodate Williams.

Head coach Hansen accused his team of playing "dumb footy" after the first game.

Ahead of the chance to avenge that heavy loss, he said: "We have worked hard this week on our game and all that comes with it. We've had a great preparation and really excited and looking forward to a massive, must-win match for the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday.

"We know that Australia will be determined and confident after their win in Perth which makes the challenge even more exciting."

With the Rugby World Cup just weeks away, Hansen wants to see a reaction from New Zealand to the joint-heaviest defeat in their history.

He said: "There's a lot of pride in the team and we've talked a lot about the Bledisloe being the second most important trophy and now we get the opportunity to show that this week - all of us working well, working hard, working smart."

Afterwards he will be able to make a judgement on whether the 15 players he fields were the right choices to handle the high-stakes occasion, or whether he needs to search again within his squad for his strongest line-up.

Hansen added, on the All Blacks website: "Australia showed they're a good side. We've got to put them under some pressure and take away the confidence they've got from playing the way they did last week.

"You've got to have a mindset that you've got to do whatever it takes to get yourself mentally and physically ready to play the game, and then you've got to walk towards that pressure and enjoy the pressure of it."

 

New Zealand team to play Australia: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett.

Schalk Brits will become the second oldest captain in Springbok history when he leads South Africa against Argentina on Saturday.

Hooker Brits, at 38 years and three months, has been chosen to lead the Boks in the Test at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, as he makes his first start for the national team in over 10 years.

Victor Matfield was almost three months older than Brits when he skippered the Springboks in the 2015 Rugby World Cup third-place match, but Brits becomes the oldest man to be a first-time captain of the team.

With World Cup places at stake, coach Rassie Erasmus has selected a strong yet experimental side, challenging some of his players to prove they deserve a seat on the plane to Japan.

Erasmus said it was "make or break" for a number of the players, as he prepares to finalise his tournament squad.

The pack shows changes following the Boks' Rugby Championship triumph, with flanker Siya Kolisi, number eight Marcell Coetzee and prop Thomas du Toit named in the starting XV, with Wilco Louw - another prop - and back-rower Marco van Staden on the bench.

Kolisi, coming back from a knee injury, is the team's regular captain but may only last for part of the first half as Erasmus eases him back into the team.

"I've asked Siya to empty his tank and go as hard for as long as he can," Erasmus said.

"I've told him he might even come off in the first half. He has played less than 50 minutes of Currie Cup rugby in the last 12 weeks but I needed him to have a taste of Test rugby again before we leave for Japan."

Cobus Reinach gets a chance to impress at scrum-half, with fly-half Elton Jantjies primed to take over the captaincy if - as seems likely - South Africa replace Brits with the uncapped Scarra Ntubeni during the match.

Herschel Jantjies is ruled out after taking a blow to the head in training that is not expected to affect his World Cup chances.

Erasmus urged his players to raise their level for what is their last match before heading to Japan.

He said: "No matter what has happened before this weekend, the momentum we will go to the World Cup with will depend on what happens on Saturday.

"Some of these players will know they are on the plane but for others it is make or break – and even if they don't make the plane there will be six standby roles to be identified."

 

South Africa team to play Argentina: Warrick Gelant, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Dillyn Leyds, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach; Thomas du Toit, Schalk Brits, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Lizo Gqoboka, Wilco Louw, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Frans Steyn.

Joey Carbery looks set to be included in Ireland's Rugby World Cup squad after discovering an ankle injury should only keep him out for up to six weeks.

There were concerns that the fly-half could face a long-term absence when he was carted off in the 29-10 World Cup warm-up win over Italy last Saturday.

Carbery did damage at the base of a ruck in the second half and looked a forlorn figure as he left the field at the Aviva Stadium.

The 23-year-old's injury is not as serious as feared, though, and he is expected to be out for between four and six weeks after undergoing rehabilitation.

Ireland start their World Cup campaign against Scotland in Yokohama City five weeks on Sunday.

Carbery flew out with the Ireland squad for a warm-weather training camp in Portugal on Wednesday along with Devin Toner and Rob Herring, who have recovered from ankle and back injuries respectively.

John Cooney, Finlay Bealham and Mike Haley were omitted.

 

Ireland squad for Portugal training camp:

Forwards: Rory Best, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Jean Kleyn, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O'Donnell,Peter O'Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier.

Backs: Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.

 

Duncan Taylor will win his first cap for over two years and Stuart McInally will captain Scotland in their first Rugby World Cup warm-up match against France on Saturday.

Taylor has not played for his country since June 2017 due to injury problems, but the 29-year-old will make up a new centre pairing with Huw Jones at the Allianz Riviera in Nice.

Fellow midfielder Rory Hutchinson and lock Scott Cummings could make their debuts off the bench against Les Bleus.

Adam Hastings gets the nod at fly-half and Ali Price starts at scrum-half five weeks before Scotland face Ireland in their World Cup opener in Yokohama City.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: "A huge amount of work has gone in throughout the past two months in order to deliver our best level of performance in the Rugby World Cup.

"These four Tests are a vital part of that process in terms of testing our systems and combinations but also in seeing which players put their best foot forward when it comes to selection for the final 31-man group going to Japan next month."

 

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Duncan Taylor, Byron McGuigan, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Stuart McInally (captain), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: George Turner, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Blair Kinghorn.

Swys de Bruin has quit as South Africa attack consultant less than six weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

De Bruin stepped down from his role for "personal and medical reasons" after a win over Argentina last weekend, which sealed a first Rugby Championship triumph for a decade.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said: "Swys made a great contribution to the squad in his time with us and I'd like to thank him on behalf of his fellow management and the players he has worked with in the past 12 months.

"He brought a fresh perspective to one facet of the game and he'll be hard to replace.

"I'd also like to thank the Lions for releasing him to us and SA Rugby for supporting his appointment."

Erasmus will weigh up his options before appointing a short-term replacement for De Bruin.

"This was not something we were expecting but our planning has been thorough and it's something we can manage," he added.

South Africa face the Pumas again at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, five weeks before taking on defending champions New Zealand in a blockbuster World Cup clash.

Christian Wade certainly knows how to make an entrance, but building on his surprising first impression could prove to be a tougher task.

The Buffalo Bills running back and former England rugby union wing scored with a 65-yard run on his first-ever touch in the NFL last Thursday as Buffalo opened preseason play against the Colts, taking off like a rocket after he found a hole and weaved his way through Indianapolis defenders.

Five days later — in a much warmer climate than he is used to in both Buffalo and his homeland as the Bills visit the Carolina Panthers this week — Wade is still savouring the moment that inspires him to continue down the new path he is on.

"I'm feeling really good right now. Scoring on my first touch in my first game just for me kind of gives me extra motivation to just keep doing what I've been doing," Wade told Stats Perform.

"There's been times where I've woken up and been 'this is really a struggle' and I guess doubting myself a little bit. Maybe sometimes not getting enough reps, which I guess is usual for a new guy.

"For me, I know I learn best by being on the field and playing … definitely have to work on the psychological side of things."

That was evident as Wade continued to work out with several team-mates and coaches in the scorching heat even after Tuesday's joint practice with the Panthers had been called for the day.

Wade made the switch to football in October after a decade-long rugby career and was assigned to the Bills in April as part of the NFL's International Player Pathway Program.

He noted his speed, footwork and vision as the most transferable skills he brings with him from one sport to the other, all of which were evident as he scored last week.

With star backs like Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and LeSean McCoy already on the Bills roster, Wade faces an uphill battle to break camp with Buffalo, but he will not let the challenge discourage him.

"I'm still young in this game," Wade said. "In my infancy I'm just trying to learn every day, trying to get better every day, and doing everything I can to contribute to the team. We'll see where that leads me when it comes to the day when they pick the teams."

As an International Player Pathway Program participant, Wade can stay on the Bills' roster until the end of training camp. At that time, he will be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption, granting Buffalo an eleventh practice squad member who is ineligible to be activated during the 2019 season.

However, if he does make the regular 53-man roster, Wade is most excited about the prospect of playing one team in particular.

"The Patriots," Wade said with a smile. "I think that would be just an amazing contest."

Israel Folau wants an apology from Rugby Australia (RA) that would go a long way to resolving his dispute with the governing body, his lawyer says.

Folau, a devout Christian, had his contract terminated by RA and the Waratahs for a "high-level breach" after he posted "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

RA and Folau failed to reach a settlement in June over the full-back's sacking and an unfair dismissal case began in court on Tuesday.

Solicitor George Haros, representing Folau, said his client is "extremely strong" and is keen for an apology as he addressed the media outside court.

"It's been publicly acknowledged by Israel and his team that he still seeks that apology, and that's still very important to him," Haros said.

"[It would] come a long way to resolving the dispute.

"Obviously Israel's very forthright in his views and he's extremely strong at this stage of proceeding."

RA has filed an application for the case to be heard by the federal court, which Folau's barrister Stuart Wood suggested had "no merit and will only lead to delay and increased costs".

"We are conscious that there are going to be attempts to further delay the rights of my client to have this matter quickly dealt with," he said.

The allegation was denied by RA lawyer Adam Hochroth.

The case will go to mediation in December, but if a resolution is not found the parties could face trial in February.

New Zealand lock Scott Barrett has been suspended for three weeks following his red card in last week's heavy Bledisloe Cup defeat against Australia.

Barrett was sent off prior to half-time as the All Blacks suffered their join-heaviest loss – a 47-26 Rugby Championship defeat to the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday.

The 25-year-old was ordered off for a no-arms tackle on Michael Hooper at Optus Stadium, where world champions New Zealand conceded the most Test points in their history.

Barrett accepted a guilty plea on Tuesday, ruling him out of this week's second Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia in Auckland.

The ban will last up until September 1, meaning Barrett will be available for New Zealand's final Rugby World Cup warm-up against Tonga on September 7.

"Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from his legal representative, Stephen Cottrell, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card under Law 9.16," SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee chairman Adam Casselden said.
 
"With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play which results in contact with the head and/or neck must start at a mid-range level. 

"However, taking into account mitigating factors including the Player's exemplary judicial record, his expressed remorse and the fact the Player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to 3 weeks."

"The Foul Play Review Committee adjourned the hearing to seek more evidence regarding the Player's proposed schedule of matches. Upon reconvening the Foul Play Review Committee was presented with extensive evidence demonstrating the Player's intended playing schedule."

New Zealand lock Scott Barrett has been suspended for three games following his red card in last week's heavy Bledisloe Cup defeat against Australia.

Barrett was sent off prior to half-time as the All Blacks suffered their join-heaviest loss – a 47-26 Rugby Championship defeat to the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday.

The 25-year-old was ordered off for a no-arms tackle on Michael Hooper at Optus Stadium, where world champions New Zealand conceded the most Test points in their history.

Barrett accepted a guilty plea on Tuesday, ruling him out of this week's second Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia in Auckland.

The ban will last up until September 1, meaning Barrett will be available for New Zealand's final Rugby World Cup warm-up against Tonga on September 7.

"Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from his legal representative, Stephen Cottrell, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card under Law 9.16," SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee chairman Adam Casselden said.
 
"With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play which results in contact with the head and/or neck must start at a mid-range level. 

"However, taking into account mitigating factors including the Player's exemplary judicial record, his expressed remorse and the fact the Player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to 3 weeks."

"The Foul Play Review Committee adjourned the hearing to seek more evidence regarding the Player's proposed schedule of matches. Upon reconvening the Foul Play Review Committee was presented with extensive evidence demonstrating the Player's intended playing schedule."

Eddie Jones refused to divulge why Ben Te'o was omitted from England's Rugby World Cup squad, simply declaring "he's just not in our top 31 players".

Centre Te'o and full-back Mike Brown were notable absentees when the squad for the tournament in Japan was named on Monday.

The duo were reportedly involved in an altercation at a social event during England's warm-weather training camp in Treviso last week.

England head coach Jones was not prepared to disclose why British and Irish Lion Te'o had been overlooked from a squad that includes Piers Francis and former Sevens specialist Ruaridh McConnochie.

The Australian said: "I'm not going to go into reasons why he wasn't selected. We've had conversations; he understands it. Whether he agrees with it is another matter.

"We've had that discussion with him and he's just not in our top 31 players at the moment."

Asked if Te'o had missed out due to his form, Jones added: "Again, we don't go into reasons as to why we select them or unselect. We won't disclose conversations we have with players."

Jones also defended his decision to pick only two scrum-halves in Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz, who impressed on debut in the victory over Wales on Sunday.

"We'd like to take three of every specialist position, but that would leave us short in other positions. We decided to go with two there and two at tighthead," Jones said.

"There's risk involved, but there's risk involved in other positions, so we've got contingency. We've got contingency in George Ford to play a little bit of half-back.

"He's been doing some training and we'll continue to do that. If we say we need a third half-back, we believe he can fulfil the role for a period of time."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.