Damian McKenzie will start at fly-half in a Test for the first time in three years as New Zealand overhauled their XV for the Rugby Championship clash against Argentina.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has made wholesale changes after last week's 39-0 rout of the Pumas on the Gold Coast, with McKenzie to start at number 10 in Brisbane on Saturday having been introduced off the bench.

New Zealand's backline at Suncorp Stadium will feature only four players who started against Argentina last time out as the All Blacks look to maintain their 100 per cent record in the competition – Ardie Savea returning to captain the side.

"With five Tests in a row and a six-day turnaround between these two Argentinian Tests, we were always going to make some selection changes," Foster said. "Five Tests in a row demanded that. 

"But the good thing is that we have a group that has been focussing on the same opposition for the last two weeks, so our preparation time hasn’t been compromised.

"We are expecting a huge response from Argentina and we have to make sure we are prepared for that because we know what a wounded beast is like. The key is not so much how they respond, but how we respond. If we go into this Test match thinking it's just going to happen for us like last week without earning the right to have the scoreboard in our favour, then we are in trouble."

New Zealand have won 30 of their 32 previous men's Tests against Argentina (D1, L1), including their last two in succession. They have also won three of their four meetings on neutral territory in that time (L1).

The All Blacks have kept Argentina scoreless in each of their last two meetings – only twice since 1900 has any Tier 1 nation kept another Tier 1 nation scoreless for more consecutive games (England – four games against Ireland from 1956 to 1959; France – three games against Italy from 1959 to 1961).

New Zealand have won their last eight consecutive Tests by an average margin of 40 points. A ninth straight victory would equal their longest winning streak since a run of 18 victories from August 2015 to October 2016.

 

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Damian McKenzie, TJ Perenara; Joe Moody, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'I, Ethan Blackadder, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu.
Replacements: Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Braydon Ennor.

Aaron Smith will play no further part in the Rugby Championship as the New Zealand scrum-half awaits the birth of his second child.

Smith started both victories over Australia at Eden Park last month but did not travel to face them in Perth at the start of September and was absent for last weekend's 39-0 win over Argentina.

The playmaker will also miss the upcoming clash with the Pumas and back-to-back showdowns with world champions South Africa, as he did not want to risk missing the arrival of his second child, which is due in November.

Smith will stay at home, with no guarantees he would secure a managed isolation space if he had to fly home earlier than expected.

The 32-year-old will instead play for Manawatu in the Bunnings Cup.

Smith could also miss the All Blacks' tour of the United States and Europe.

He said: "The door isn't completely closed to me joining the team for the Northern Tour if our baby comes early. 

"In this environment anything can happen, so I've got an open mind. At the moment though, I just want to focus on being here with my family and enjoying that time and playing for Manawatu. I can't wait to get the boots on again."

TJ Perenara and Brad Weber will battle it out for New Zealand's number nine shirt in the absence of Smith.

 

New Zealand turned on the style to ruthlessly dispatch Argentina 39-0 to make it three wins from three in the Rugby Championship.

Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece and Dalton Papalii all touched down in a dominant first-half showing from the All Blacks at the CBUS Super Stadium in Queensland.

Luke Jacobson then scored twice in the second period to complete the most routine of wins for Ian Foster's side.

Ioane went over in scrappy fashion after 10 minutes when he reacted fastest to Bautista Delguy knocking a Beauden Barrett offload to ground.

Despite dominating ball and territory it took until three minutes before half-time for Reece to crash over, with Papalii following suit with time in the red following a drive from a line-out with Pablo Matera sent to the bin for the Pumas in the build-up due to persistent team infringements.

Jacobson had his first following a stunning offload from Barrett early in the second half and, after New Zealand were denied on three occasions by the TMO, he had a second with a strong run from the back of a scrum.

A late Jordie Barrett three-pointer added further gloss for a New Zealand side that was never troubled by a limp Argentina for who Nicolas Sanchez made a record 90th appearance.


Ioane a menace

Argentina were camped in their own 22 for the majority of the first half in no short part down to the work of Ioane.

The bulldozing centre, who prior to this game was the leader for metres gained in the Championship, consistently broke the lines and it was his quick reactions that got the All Blacks rolling.

Barrett bros almost combine for stunner

Shortly after Ioane's opener there was a moment of genius when Beauden Barrett's high kick was caught by brother Jordie deep into the try area and dotted down.

It was a sensational catch and ground by the full-back, who had absolutely no right to make the grab, but sadly his placing of the ball appeared to be just over the line.

Australia are looking for a lift and have turned to Quade Cooper to provide guile from number 10 against South Africa as the Rugby Championship resumes.

Three weeks on from the second round of games, Australia and the Springboks go head to head, and New Zealand tackle Argentina, with both games being played on Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The Wallabies took a Bledisloe Cup drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks, losing all three games in that series, with two of those forming part of this tournament, so they are looking for a spark and will hope Cooper, making his first international appearance in over four years, can provide that.

The 33-year-old last featured, briefly, against Italy in June 2017 and now plays for Japanese team Kintetsu Liners.

His career looked to be in steep decline at one point, as Cooper lost his place in not only the Australia squad during Michael Cheika's reign as coach, but also fell out of favour with the Queensland Reds.

Now he is set for a 71st Test appearance, having been originally beckoned into Dave Rennie's squad as a training player.

South Africa make seven changes to their starting XV for the match, with number eight Duane Vermeulen selected to make his first appearance for the Boks since the 2019 World Cup final after recovering from ankle surgery.

There are changes afoot for New Zealand too, with lock Brodie Retallick named captain for the clash with Argentina as Ardie Savea sits the game out after taking a knock to the head last week.

Ahead of the crunch double-header, the third of six rounds of games in the championship, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta facts.

NEW ZEALAND v ARGENTINA

Form

The All Blacks are inevitably on a high after crushing the Bledisloe Cup aspirations of their trans-Tasman rivals and duly making a strong start to the championship. They have full-back Jordie Barrett available despite his red card against Australia last time out after the punishment was rescinded on appeal in midweek.

New Zealand have won their last seven men's Tests on the bounce by an average margin of 40 points per game. The last time they won more in succession was a nine-game streak from November 2017 to September 2018 which included a 46-24 win over Argentina.

They have not always had it easy against the South American powerhouses, though. Their clashes in last year's Tri-Nations were memorable, with Argentina scoring a stunning 25-15 win over the All Blacks on November 14, 2020, only to then lose 38-0 when they met again a fortnight later. New Zealand have won 29 of their 31 Tests against Argentina (D1, L1).

New Zealand have had just 12 minutes and 53 seconds of possession per game in this year's Rugby Championship, the lowest of any team in the competition. Despite this, they lead the competition in metres gained (615), clean breaks (15), and points scored (48) per game.

Argentina's two defeats to South Africa in the opening two rounds suggest they might find the going tough this weekend.

Ones to watch

Blindside flanker Akira Ioane has crossed the gainline on 17 of his 18 gainline carries for New Zealand in the competition so far. His 94 per cent rate is the highest of any player to have made at least 10 gainline carries in this tournament.

Retallick will carry the responsibility of leadership after he was favoured ahead of Beauden Barrett who, at fly-half, was judged to have enough going on without having to issue orders.

Coach Ian Foster said of Retallick, who has returned to Test action this year after a spell in Japan: "He's back, he's confident, he's got the smile on his face, and that's part of the biggest thing with Brodie. When he's settled and he loves the environment, then he can go out and express himself.

"And I don't want a lot to change with that captaincy band. It's one of the challenges of giving it to someone like Brodie, do you force him into someone that he's not? But I'm really comfortable. He knows his role, he's clear and the boys certainly want to follow him."

Discipline will be important for both sides, with Argentina having received six yellow cards and one red card in their last six men's Tests, including two yellow cards against the Boks last time out. They had received only one yellow card and one red card in their previous 25 Tests.

SOUTH AFRICA v AUSTRALIA

Form

After the tussle between the All Blacks and Pumas, perhaps this can be considered the headline match of the weekend, an embattled Australia facing World Cup winners who are aiming for a statement victory.

For COVID-19 reasons, Queensland is staging the remainder of this tournament, and Australia coach Rennie will look for a response from his players to their sequence of losses.

The three-in-a-row streak is a concern, and the last time the Wallabies lost more in succession was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018. They lost twice to Ireland and twice to New Zealand before ending that losing run with a 23-18 success against South Africa.

Australia have won 19 of their last 24 men's Tests at home against South Africa, logging just three defeats in that span (D2). They are undefeated in their last five such fixtures (W4, D1), yet each of those games has featured a margin of fewer than seven points on the day.

It could be tight again, with South Africa having won 15 of their 18 Tests since the beginning of 2019. They have won their last four on the bounce, and their 83 per cent win rate since the beginning of 2019 is the best of any top-tier team in that time.

South Africa defeated Argentina 29-10 in the second round, while Australia went down 38-21 to New Zealand in Perth.

The Springboks have missed the fewest tackles per game (16) so far in the championship and have the highest tackle success rate (89 per cent) of any team. Australia’s tackle success rate of 82 per cent is the lowest of the four sides, but the context is that they were facing the All Blacks.

South Africa have created 20 mauls throughout this tournament, which is twice as many as any other team and five times as many as Australia (4); the Springboks have gained 56 metres and scored one try from those mauls.

Ones to watch

Australia scrum-half Tate McDermott has beaten nine defenders in this year's Rugby Championship, the second-most of any player (Akira Ioane – 12). He beat seven defenders against the All Blacks in the last round, and only twice in the last decade has any scrum-half from a tier one nation made more (Antoine Dupont 9, Francois Hougaard 8).

He therefore has a pivotal role to play, and how he combines with Cooper will be keenly observed.

Rennie said he was "thrilled" to be able to be giving Cooper another chance to show his quality at this level, and it remains to be seen whether this is a one-off comeback or something that might have longer-term legs.

Michael Hooper will match George Gregan's record of 59 matches as captain of Australia as he wins a 112th cap, and there are other landmarks set to arise. Reece Hodge, who starts on the bench, and Allan Alaalatoa will each win 50th caps.

Rennie described the match as "a huge occasion" for Hooper, hailing his longevity as "testament to his leadership and resilience".

Boks coach Jacques Nienaber said of the occasion: "Australia pose a strong threat with their running rugby and they like to keep the ball in play. They will also be playing in front of a charged-up home crowd, so it will be good to have these experienced players back as they know what it takes to perform in big matches."

South Africa have won their last two Tests on the bounce against Australia, as many as they had won in their eight encounters prior (D2, L4). The last time they won more successive games against the Wallabies was a three-game winning stretch from September 2012 to September 2013.

Quade Cooper will make a remarkable return for the Wallabies after being named to play for the first time since 2017 when Australia face South Africa on Sunday.

Cooper had been part of Australia's squad for the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand, but was not used in any of the three Tests which the All Blacks comfortably won.

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has rolled the dice for the Rugby Championship showdown against South Africa on the Gold Coast, with 33-year-old Cooper named at fly-half, displacing 21-year-old Noah Lolesio.

Cooper's career has taken several turns since his last cap in 2017 against Italy, frozen out at Brad Thorn's Reds in Super Rugby, before a one-year stint at the Rebels and a move to play in Japan in 2019.

"He's had a really positive impact since joining the group, put pressure on us as selectors and he's excited to get out there and perform on Sunday night," Rennie said.

Angus Bell will earn his first start in the front-row, while Izack Rodda also comes into the starting line-up, with the backline unchanged.

Wallabies hooker Feleti Kaitu'u and back-rower Rob Leota are in line for debuts off the bench.

The match will see Australia captain Michael Hooper equal George Gregan's record for most Tests as Wallabies skipper when he steps out for the 59th time.

Meanwhile, Brodie Retallick has been named as captain for New Zealand after a head knock to Ardie Savea ahead of their Test against Argentina on Sunday.

Hooker Asafo Aumua will make his first Test start for the All Blacks, while prop Joe Moody returns following foot surgery via the bench.

"Brodie is a great leader in this team and we don't take his leadership for granted," said All Blacks coach Ian Foster. "We think this is a great honour for him, and he and his family can be hugely proud. 

"He's playing really well and leads from the front. He has come back into the black jersey this year and just picked up where he left off.

"He also has an experienced partner in Beaudy [Barrett] alongside him who is bringing a calmness to the team and a sense of direction and we’re seeing that in the way he plays."

 

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Tate McDermott; Angus Bell, Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Karl Tu'inukuafe, Asafo Aumua, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Luke Jacobson.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Joe Moody, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa'I, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane.

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis have resigned from their roles a little over a month before the T20 World Cup begins.

The pair were appointed in September 2019 and were under contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for another year.

However, Misbah and Waqar informed the PCB of their decision to leave on Monday ahead of the upcoming three ODIs and five T20Is against New Zealand, with the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman also on the horizon.

Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq have joined the Pakistan management team as interim coaches for that New Zealand series, which begins on September 17.

Misbah's decision to step down was for family reasons amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the 47-year-old having recently spent time self-isolating in Jamaica after testing positive for COVID-19.

"The quarantine in Jamaica post the West Indies series provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the past 24 months as well as the schedule for international cricket ahead," Misbah said in a statement. 

"Considering that I would have had to continue to spend considerable time away from my family and that too in a bio-secure environment, I have decided to step down from the role.

"I understand that the timing may not be ideal but I don't think I am in the right frame of mind for the upcoming challenges and it makes sense for someone fresh to step in and take the side forward.

"The past 24 months have been thoroughly enjoyable and I want to thank my team and the management for their support. 

"I wish the Pakistan cricket team best of luck in the upcoming events and will continue to support them every time they will take the field to represent Pakistan."

Waqar's decision to step down was linked to Misbah's departure. 

"After Misbah shared with me his decision and future plans, it was a straightforward one for me to resign as we had walked into the roles together, had worked collectively as a pair and now also step down together," Waqar said.

"Working with the Pakistan bowlers, including the youngsters, has been most satisfying as they have now started to show progress. 

"Bio-secure environments in the past 16 months have had their impact, something we had never experienced during our playing days.

"The next eight months will be busy and exciting for the Pakistan team and, like in the past, I will continue to back and cheer them. 

"I want to thank each and every member of the Pakistan cricket team set-up as we stayed united in good and bad days, and hope there will be brighter days ahead."

The shock double exit came two hours after Pakistan had named their squad for the T20 World Cup, as well as the warm-up internationals against New Zealand and England.

Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah were among the surprise inclusions in the 15-man selection.

 

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Rizwan, Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Wasim.

Ian Foster and Dave Rennie backed the law change over red cards in the Rugby Championship after New Zealand completed a Bledisloe Cup sweep over Australia on Sunday.

Jordie Barrett scored the game's opening try in Perth, setting New Zealand on the way to a 38-21 triumph that means they have won all three Tests against their trans-Tasman rivals this year.

However, the full-back did not last long after scoring, dismissed for dangerous play after catching Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete in the face with a boot while catching a high ball.

All Blacks boss Foster felt the decision to send off Barrett was a little harsh, particularly as it could lead to a suspension that has an impact on the rest of the Championship campaign.

"I was pretty surprised to be honest [that he got the red card]," Foster told the media. "We'll go and have a good look at it, but certainly we'll be putting together a case for that one.

"He just lost balance and you could see he tilted and you could see what happened.

"I feel for the refs in situations like this, because technically they saw things and they make their decisions. I get all that. Have we got a technique problem? No."

While Barrett did not feature again, the tournament is experimenting with a ruling where players who have been sent off can be replaced by a substitute after a 20-minute period.

The initiative allowed the All Blacks to be back at full strength early in the second half, by which time they were comfortably in charge of proceedings.

"It's why all the SANZAAR countries were pretty united in wanting to carry on this global trial," Foster said of the trial.

"It's easy to ask me my opinion because we were the ones on the end of it, so we probably benefited by only having a 20-minute red card. I get that.

"But we were keen supporters of that even before the game and today probably justifies that."

Wallabies head coach Rennie felt the red card was the right call, even if Barrett had not been malicious in making contact with Koroibete, but also backed the initiative on trial.

The hosts still trailed 18-0 at half-time and while they did cross three times after the break, New Zealand eased clear to claim a bonus-point victory that puts them top of the table after two rounds.

"I think it's good that we have a 20-minute red card at the moment, because it's certainly not malicious," Rennie said.

"But based on law, when you field a ball, kick your foot out and hit someone in the head, there's going to be repercussions for that. So, I think the decision is probably accurate, and the fact it's only 20 minutes is a good thing."

New Zealand cruised to a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep in 2021 thanks to a 38-21 victory over Australia in Perth, despite the first-half dismissal of Jordie Barrett. 

The All Blacks had lost 47-26 on their previous trip to Optus Stadium in August 2019 but there was to be no repeat result for the Wallabies, who had already lost twice to their trans-Tasman rivals in Auckland last month. 

Beauden Barrett kicked a pair of penalties to make it 6-0 to the visitors before putting his boot to good use in open play too, a clever grubber creating the chance for brother Jordie Barrett to get the opening try of the game. 

However, the full-back's involvement in the contest only lasted a further 12 minutes. Claiming a high ball, he caught Marika Koroibete in the face with an outstretched boot while still in the air, leading to a contentious red card for dangerous contact with the head. 

Despite being down to 14, New Zealand extended their lead before the break to 18-0 when David Havili grabbed the first of his two tries, the other coming just after the hour mark as the second half saw a glut of points. 

Folau Fainga'a gave Australia hope 10 minutes after the interval with a try that Noah Lolesio converted, yet the All Blacks responded impressively, moving the ball across the line for wing Will Jordan to waltz over. 

They also exploited turnovers ruthlessly, both Havili and substitute George Bridge crossing after Australia had lost possession, the latter benefiting from a superb kick into space by TJ Perenara.  

In between, Anton Lienert-Brown went over from Akira Ioane's inside pass near the touchline, New Zealand easing to a bonus-point triumph that sends them top of the Rugby Championship standings after two rounds. 

Substitute Nic White forced his way over for a second Wallabies try, while they had the last say in terms of the scoring with Tom Banks' 79th-minute effort converted by Reece Hodge, but the hosts were already condemned to another heavy loss that leaves them bottom of the table. 


Where there's a Will, there’s a way

Jordan's second-half try means he has now scored in six consecutive Test appearances, the best streak by any player from a Tier 1 nation since the beginning of 2010. His latest effort was put on a plate for him by his team-mates, with the impressive Ioane breaking free of a tackle to create the simple finish after some neat handling had stretched the Australian defence out wide.

Barrett off, All Blacks still march on

Koroibete was certainly at the centre of the early action. He had already seen a try ruled out by the TMO by the time he was hit by Jordie Barrett's boot. However, the Wallabies were unable to capitalise when having an extra man on the field, with the competition's rules allowing a replacement to come on after a 20-minute period.

Ian Foster has challenged Jordie Barrett to bring a "calmness" to New Zealand at full-back when they attempt to complete a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep of Australia on Sunday.

The All Blacks racked up a record score against the Wallabies to win the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th successive year at Eden Park last month, winning 57-22.

Head coach Foster has made five changes to his side for the rearranged clash at Optus Stadium, with expectant fathers Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Richie Mo'unga absent.

Barrett has got the nod over Damian McKenzie, while Brad Weber gets his second start at scrum-half and Ardie Savea has been named captain for the rest of the Rugby Championship, with Sam Cane injured.

Foster said: "We've been pretty happy with Damian at the back in terms of his influence in the first-receiver role and some of his decision-making from behind. Jordie we know is a quality player. We get asked a lot of questions decision-making-wise on attack and defence at 15, and that's probably his biggest work-on.

"We know he's a great individual athlete who can do some pretty special things, it's just about bringing that calmness to the back and making sure we have real clarity. There is a nice little battle going there at full-back."

Samu Kerevi returns at inside centre for Australia, while Izack Rodda will make his return from the bench and Folau Fainga'a makes his first start of the year.

Stats Perform use Opta facts to preview the Rugby Championship showdown in Perth.

 

AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Form

New Zealand showed no mercy as they put Australia to the sword in Auckland last time out.

The Wallabies have fond memories of facing their trans-Tasman rivals at Optus Stadium, having scored their highest points total against the All Blacks two years ago in a 47-26 triumph.

New Zealand have lost only one of their past seven Tests against Australia (W5, D1), that 24-22 loss coming at Suncorp Stadium last November.

Foster's men have scored 50 points or more in four of their five Tests this year. The last time the All Blacks brought up a half-century of points more times in a calendar year was when they did so on five occasions in 2007.

 

Ones to watch

Kerevi has not played for his country since a heavy defeat to England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The centre's international career looked to be over when he moved to Japan but he is back on the Test stage as he replaces Matt Toomua.

Explosive powerhouse Kerevi, who will partner Len Ikitau, will be expected to make a big impact in the midfield battle.

Foster's pre-match words will be ringing in the ears of Jordie Barrett as he prepares to start in the 15 shirt.

Barrett has scored 106 points in 27 Tests, including 15 tries, and is capable of tormenting Australia.

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

Chris Cairns has been left paralysed after suffering a stroke in his spine while the New Zealand cricket great underwent heart surgery.

Cairns had surgery in Canberra after a "major medical event" earlier this month and was transferred to St Vincent's in Sydney for another cardiovascular operation.

The 51-year-old was reported to have suffered an aortic dissection – a tear in the body's main artery – that put his life at risk.

Now he faces a battle to walk again after his lawyer, Aaron Lloyd, announced the latest setback to affect former all-rounder Cairns.

Lloyd said in a statement reported by New Zealand media: "During the life-saving emergency heart surgery Chris underwent in Sydney he suffered a stroke in his spine. This has resulted in paralysis in his legs.

"As a result he will be undertaking a significant rehabilitation process at a specialist spinal hospital in Australia.

"Chris and his family remain appreciative of the immense public support as they deal with this difficult time. They also appreciate the way in which their privacy has been respected.

"Chris and his family now want to focus on spending time together where possible and making whatever progress they can in his recovery. We will update everyone when there is more news, but that is likely to be some time away."

A previous statement from Lloyd said Cairns was off life support and able to communicate with family.

Cairns has been moved back from Sydney to Canberra for continuing treatment.

Between 1989 and 2006, Cairns played 62 Tests, 215 ODIs and two Twenty20 games for the Black Caps. His father Lance also played cricket for New Zealand.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has signed a contract extension through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) made the announcement on Tuesday after Foster replaced Steve Hansen on a two-year deal beginning in 2020.

The All Blacks – who retained the Bledisloe Cup and claimed the Tri-Nations last year – won just three of their 2020 Tests, with a draw and loss to rivals Australia, and an historic defeat to Argentina in Sydney.

Foster's New Zealand are flawless in 2021, including a 102-0 demolition of Tonga, having defended the Bledisloe Cup again versus the Wallabies.

"Firstly, I want to acknowledge the board and NZR for the faith they have shown in reappointing me," Foster said. "It's a privilege to be part of the All Blacks and I don't take that for granted.

"It's clearly been a challenging couple of years with Covid-19, but I've been hugely proud of the resilience shown by the team. I'm personally driven to have our team continue to succeed as we build to Rugby World Cup 2023.

"What is equally important to me is the fact that I'm just one part of an outstanding coaching and management team and to continue working with them is a privilege and inspires me to be the best head coach I can be.

"We have the immediate challenge of this year's Fortinet Rugby Championship and then the tour North, but 2022 and 2023 will bring their own challenges. I'm really excited to be leading the team into the future and can't wait to get stuck into our work."

NZR CEO Mark Robinson added: "Ian has faced extraordinary times since he was first appointed, with the uncertainty of Covid-19 and the numerous challenges it has thrown up, and he's shown remarkable composure and resolve to lead incredibly well through it all.

"Foz has built an outstanding culture and environment in the team with an inclusive and collaborative approach and maintained a steady, clear focus on our goal of being Number one in the world again.

"There is no doubt Foz and his team are performing extremely well in trying conditions and we are pleased to send a strong signal of support to create certainty in our environment and allow the management team and player group to plan for the future.

"On behalf of NZR and the board, I want to congratulate Foz and his team and wish them all the best for the rest of this season and beyond."

The Wallabies and All Blacks will clash in the Bledisloe Cup in Perth before Queensland hosts the remainder of the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand pulled out of next weekend's third and final Bledisloe Test due to concerns over coronavirus, with the showdown initially set for August 28 at Optus Stadium.

The fixture will go ahead in Perth, with a date for the game set to be confirmed in the coming days following SANZAAR's announcement on Tuesday.

Afterwards, the Rugby Championship will head to Queensland for doubleheaders across four consecutive weekends in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville, where the centenary Test between the All Blacks and Springboks will be played.

The Wallabies play South Africa on September 12 at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, where the All Blacks then going head-to-head against Argentina.

September 18 will see the teams travel to Brisbane for Argentina-New Zealand and Australia-South Africa contests at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia and Argentina face-off at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville the following weekend on September 25, before the New Zealand-Argentina centenary encounter.

The Rugby Championship concludes on the Gold Coast on October 2, with the Pumas facing the Wallabies and Springboks taking on the All Blacks.

"We thought last year was tough when we had to implement a Tri-Nations tournament in Australia with South Africa absent due to the pandemic, but the current disruption caused by the 'delta variant' of COVID-19 has seen government authorities tighten up border bio-security measures substantially," said SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris.

"This is understandable and therefore, we had no option but to basically move the remainder of The Rugby Championship to Queensland.

"On behalf of SANZAAR and the national unions, I would like to sincerely thank the Queensland Government for working with us around the clock to provide a travel, accommodation, training and playing environment that will safely allow us to complete the tournament.

"SANZAAR and the national unions are incredibly grateful and will work closely with the states' health authorities to ensure all bio-security measures are adhered to." 

Rugby Australia (RA) CEO Andy Marinos added: "This is a world Rugby first and a truly special celebration of the game, in what I see as a once-in-a-lifetime event."

Rugby Australia remain "confident" the third Bledisloe Cup clash will be staged in Perth, despite New Zealand pulling out of the game next weekend.

The All Blacks and the Wallabies were due to meet at Optus Stadium on August 28, but New Zealand Rugby (NZR) opted against travelling due to concerns over coronavirus.

Rugby Australia (RA) announced it was "incredibly disappointed" at the move, while Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie stated in no uncertain terms he was "bloody angry" over the decision.

Playing the Test in the United Kingdom or South Africa had been suggested as an alternative, but RA chief executive Andy Marinos hopes the trans-Tasman rivals can still do battle in Perth next month.

"We're working hard now with the West Australian government and the stadium to see if we can't move that to September 4," Marinos told Channel Nine on Sunday.

"We remain optimistic and confident we can get the game away eventually in Perth."

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson denied claims that RA had not been told that the All Blacks would not fulfil the fixture before it was announced.

He said: "We had calls right through from Wednesday, Thursday, we put something in writing on Thursday and then we spoke to them before anything was released.

"Certainly I know that senior All Blacks and Wallabies were discussing the situation and our players were making them aware of the reality of our situation."

NZR also announced the All Blacks' two home Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa – scheduled for September 25 and October 2 – will not be played in New Zealand following government advice that the Springboks would not be able to enter the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

SA Rugby has offered to host the remainder of the 2021 Rugby Championship after coronavirus cases in New Zealand saw three All Blacks Tests called off.

With travel and quarantine restrictions tightened in New Zealand, it was announced the national team's matches against the Springboks in Auckland and Dunedin had been cancelled.

The All Blacks also will not travel to Perth for their third Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia – a decision their SANZAAR rivals said they only learned of through the media.

These developments have left Rugby Championship plans in tatters after just a single round of matches.

The tournament was replaced by the Tri-Nations in 2020 when South Africa withdrew. This time, SA Rugby is able to provide a potential solution, confirming in a statement its offer to SANZAAR.

"We have advised SANZAAR that we are ready and able to host the remainder of the competition in South Africa, pending our government's approval," said CEO Jurie Roux.

"But we are now well-versed in turning on rugby Tests within the prevailing COVID restrictions and have the venues and accommodation necessary. We just need the go-ahead."

The Springboks are still set to face Argentina, as scheduled, in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, although the two teams will not then fly out to Australia as they await an announcement on the rescheduling of the tournament.

South Africa has already this year hosted a British and Irish Lions tour, which the Springboks won 2-1.

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