Dave Rennie says captain Michael Hooper has shown "true courage" by withdrawing from Australia's Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.

The flanker opted against facing the Pumas at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on Saturday, as he is not in the right frame of mind to play.

James Slipper will step in to lead the Wallabies in Mendonza, with Hooper heading home and Fraser McReight getting a late call to take the number seven shirt.

Australia head coach Rennie praised Hooper for making such a brave decision.

"Michael's one of the most professional and impressive men I've coached I know this has been a difficult decision for him," he said.

"He's shown true courage by acknowledging where he is at and acting on it.

"We will support him in any way we can and I know the team will be focused on getting the job done tomorrow."

Hooper said: "While this decision did not come easily I know it is the right one for me and the team at this point in time.

"My whole career I’ve looked to put the team first and I don't feel I am able to fulfil my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset."

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos says Hooper will be given all the support he needs.

He said: "Michael is an incredible leader, it takes a brave man to identify where he’s at and come forward whilst having the best interests of the team at heart.

"His wellbeing is and remains the highest priority right now where Rugby Australia and the Australian Rugby community will do everything to support him and his family."

South Africa are favourites to inflict a third consecutive defeat on New Zealand for the first time since 1998 when they meet in a huge Rugby Championship battle on Saturday.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster is under pressure after New Zealand lost a home series to Ireland for the first time last month.

A trip to face the world champions twice at the start of the Rugby Championship would appear to be make or break for Foster, who needs his side to step up in the first game of the tournament at Mbombela Stadium.

New Zealand won the title last year, but have lost their way just 13 months before the Rugby World Cup starts in France.

Meanwhile, Argentina do battle with Australia at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on the opening day, with the Wallabies having been so short of success away from home as Michael Cheika looks to mastermind a victory over his former team.

Stats Perform preview the Tests in Nelspruit and Mendoza with the use of Opta facts.

SOUTH AFRICA V NEW ZEALAND

FORM

South Africa start the Rugby Championship on the back of a 2-1 series win over Wales and have been victorious in six of their past seven Tests on home soil, conceding 20 points or more in just one of those matches.

It is just one win in five Tests for the out-of-sorts All Blacks, who last lost three in a row 24 years ago. They were beaten in five consecutive matches from July to August 1998, with the Springboks winning two of those contests.

New Zealand have a strong record in South Africa, though, having won their past four away Tests against the Springboks

ONES TO WATCH

Damian Willemse caught the eye against Wales, ranking in the top five for both metres gained (190m – third) and line breaks (three – joint-fourth) among players from Tier One nations in the July Tests. The All Blacks will have to prevent the in-form full-back from doing further damage.

Number eight Ardie Savea is among the senior figures who Foster will be counting on to have a big influence. Savea was the only player to score three tries versus a Tier One nation last month, striving in vain to prevent Ireland from making history.

 

​ARGENTINA V AUSTRALIA

FORM

Argentina have a spring in their step after a 2-1 series victory over Scotland and have their sights on back-to-back wins for the first time since November 2020 as Cheika finds himself in the strange position of plotting Australia's downfall.

The Wallabies are smarting from a series loss to England on home soil and have won only one of their past nine Tests outside of Australia – versus Japan last October.

Australia have become accustomed to getting the better of the Pumas, though, winning four and drawing two of the previous six encounters. Six of the past seven Tests between the two nations in Argentina have gone the way of the touring side.

ONES TO WATCH

Argentina's dramatic series win over Scotland came courtesy of a last-gasp try from Emiliano Boffelli, who also scored 14 points with the boot and provided an assist.

Quade Cooper returns from injury to start at fly-half for Australia. Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie will expect the number 10 and scrum-half Nic White to dictate the tempo.

Ian Foster will know there is more than just Rugby Championship points at stake when wounded New Zealand start their campaign against South Africa on Saturday.

Foster is under huge pressure after the All Blacks suffered a first home Test series defeat to Ireland last month.

New Zealand have come under fire following a 32-22 loss against Andy Farrell's inspired side in the decider in Wellington, with growing calls for Foster to be sacked.

Mark Robinson, the New Zealand Rugby chief executive, was unable to offer head coach Foster long-term backing before the squad boarded the plane for two Tests against the world champions.

Asked about Foster's future, he told Newstalk ZB: "He's certainly the person to lead the team to South Africa, and we're making sure they've got everything possible in the way of resourcing and support to make sure that's successful."

Robinson had stated that the 2-1 series defeat to Ireland was "not acceptable", and it would appear he will not tolerate further painful setbacks in South Africa.

Assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar lost their jobs after Ireland's historic triumph, but Foster has vowed to fight on just 13 months before the Rugby World Cup starts in France.

Winning the Rugby Championship title last year must seem like a distant memory for Foster as his side prepared to start the defence of their crown at Mbombela Stadium.

Following years of dominance, New Zealand are fourth in the rankings, and this is something of a crisis by their standards.

Victory for the Springboks in Nelspruit this weekend would represent a third defeat in a row for New Zealand for the first time since they lost five consecutive Tests in July and August 1998, two of which came at the hands of South Africa.

Foster has made four changes to his team for the opening match of the tournament, bringing in lock Scott Barrett, hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho, tighthead prop Angus Ta'avao and wing Caleb Clarke.

South Africa have not beaten New Zealand at home since a 27-25 success in 2014, but Jacques Nienaber's men will be favourites to end that wait on Saturday.

The Springboks have won six of their past seven Tests on home soil, the last of which was a 30-14 defeat of Wales in Cape Town that sealed a 2-1 series victory.

A formidable, powerful force when at their brutal best, facing South Africa in their own backyard is an almighty challenge, and Foster will need warriors to step up with his job seemingly on the line.

Argentina and Australia get the tournament under way at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on Saturday, with the Pumas on a high from securing a dramatic series win over Scotland.

They won the decider against Gregor Townsend's men 34-31 last month thanks to a last-gasp try from Emiliano Boffelli and will now attempt to end a six-Test winless streak against the Wallabies.

Australia have been licking their wounds since suffering a 2-1 Test series defeat at home to England, and they have won only one of their past nine Tests played away from home – that victory being over Japan last October. 

Jamaica Sunshine Girls head coach Connie Francis has credited the team’s commitment to patience as a crucial component in a historic win over Australia at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

The Jamaicans registered a 57-55 win in the Pool A encounter, a result that marked the first time the Sunshine Girls were registering a win over the number one ranked team at the Commonwealth Games.

The Sunshine Girls staged a furious fourth-quarter rally after trailing Australia 46-40 at the end of the third.  According to Francis, a key part of that success had to do with taking better care of the ball.

“We went back to the basics, pushed it around, looked for short and long passes, something that we are not accustomed to but we have implemented for this tournament,” Francis said.

“We decided we were going to be very patient and not make silly passes, only one silly turnover was on the side and I thought we should not have gone there because we had other players that could have taken the ball,” she added.

“At that stage in the later part of the game when we surged forward, they were determined to keep the lead because that is what we have been practicing and that is what they wanted.  They wanted this victory more than anything else.”

The team’s highest finish at the Commonwealth Games is third, which they have achieved on three separate occasions.

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls rallied from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun three-time gold-medallists Australia to top Pool A at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Thursday.

In the intense battle between the unbeaten top two teams in the pool, Jamaica led by Jhanielle Fowler’s 47 goals from 50 attempts and Shanice Beckford’s perfect 10 from 10, outscored the Diamonds 17-9 to pull off their first victory over the three-time champions at the Commonwealth Games.

Australia enjoyed a slim one-goal lead at the end of the first quarter 14-13 but as Jamaica gained confidence they matched the Australian’s 16-16 to remain one goal down at the half-time break.

The experienced Australians surged to a five-goal lead in the third quarter, winning the stanza 16-11 before the Jamaicans, the only team to score 100 goals in a match at this year’s Games, turned the game on its head with a 17-9 score-line to get a famous victory. Jamaica levelled the score with eight minutes to go before taking the lead for good with four minutes left to play.

Australia’s Gretel Bueta led the Diamonds’ scoring with 36 goals from 39 attempts while Steph Wood scored 19 goals from 22 tries in the losing cause.

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls crushed their Caribbean rivals Barbados Gems 103-24 to go 3-0 in their 2022 Commonwealth Games campaign on Monday.

Usman Khawaja believes one-day international cricket is "dying a slow death" and claims it is "very tough" to play in all three formats.

England Test captain Ben Stokes retired from ODIs this week, stating it was "unsustainable" for him to play for his country in the longest format, plus Twenty20s and the 50-over game.

Stokes warned that players cannot be treated like "cars" and keep clocking up mileage with such a hectic schedule.

Australia batter Khawaja is not convinced there is a long-term future for ODI cricket.

He said: "My own personal opinion – I know a few of the guys are very similar – you've got Test cricket, which is the pinnacle, you've got T20 cricket, which obviously has leagues around the world, great entertainment, everyone loves it, and then there's one-day cricket.

"I feel like that's probably the third-ranked out of all of them. I think personally one-day cricket is dying a slow death... there's still the World Cup, which I think is really fun and it's enjoyable to watch, but other than that, even myself personally, I'm probably not into one-day cricket as much either."

Khawaja believes it is a big ask for players to play in all formats.

"Not impossible, very tough," Khawaja said, quoted by the Australian Associated Press. "So much travelling. If you're playing all three forms of the game, you're not at home at all really.

"And then the demands on your body, mentally, physically and a lot of the guys might be playing also the IPL.

"There's a lot of cricket going on. Yes, you get to pick and choose, I guess, in certain respects what you want to play, but it can be very tough at the moment."

While Khawaja does not see a bright ODI future, he is not concerned about Test cricket.

"The majority of people I talk to still love Test cricket," he said. "It's my favourite format. [I] think Test cricket still has a very strong presence so don't really see that going anywhere."

Rugby Australia's chief executive Andy Marinos has condemned the "unacceptable" and "offensive" remarks directed towards England and Eddie Jones in Sydney.

England responded to defeat in the first Test by triumphing in the following two meetings to secure back-to-back series victories over the Wallabies Down Under.

The Red Rose had to deal with a late push from Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where they held firm to win 21-17 and seal the slender series win.

Australian-born England coach Jones was greeted with abuse in the aftermath from the SCG crowd, berated as a "traitor" on two occasions by different spectators.

Jones – who was head coach of his country between 2001 and 2005, but has been in charge of England since 2015 – labelled the perpetrators as "clowns", and Marinos has subsequently apologised.

"The offensive remarks made by spectators in the members' areas towards England staff were unacceptable – and not representative of the values of rugby," a Rugby Australia statement read.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behaviour, and we are working with Venues NSW on appropriate sanctions for these individuals.

"Rugby prides itself on values of respect and integrity – as seen in the players of both teams after the final whistle of a hard-fought series at the SCG on Saturday night.

"It is our expectation that spectators adhere to these values of respect and integrity when attending rugby matches – and, we would hope, in society in general.

"Please, cheer for your team with all that you have – but please, always show respect for others."

In a further incident at the SCG, another spectator was caught on film climbing onto the roof of the grandstand and urinating, and Marinos confirmed the fan received a lifetime ban.

"The deplorable actions of the alleged intruder that made his way to the roof of the grandstand were disgraceful and dangerous," the statement added.

"This individual has been issued with a life ban from Rugby Australia events – and we will continue to support the authorities in their handling of the matter."

Eddie Jones hit back at Australia fans who called him a "traitor" during an altercation after England completed a series win at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Red Rose pulled off a repeat of their tour triumph in 2016 by making it back-to-back series wins Down Under, beating the Wallabies 21-17 in the deciding Test on Saturday.

Jones was head coach of his country between 2001 and 2005, but has been in charge of England since 2015 following a spell with Japan.

After recovering from going 1-0 down in the series with a 30-28 loss in Perth, England won 25-17 in Brisbane last weekend before sealing the series in the decider.

Unsavoury scenes followed the match at the SCG, as two separate incidents emerged on social media that showed Australia fans baiting Jones, with one heading to the front of a stand to shout "You're a traitor" at the Tasmanian, to which the furious 62-year-old responded with, "What did you say? Come here and say it. Come here and say it."

A second video shows another fan also calling Jones a "traitor", which he again took exception to.

When asked for comment over the incident by the Sydney Morning Herald, Jones said: "Clowns think they have full go to abuse coaches."

It was not the first time in the series that Jones felt he had experienced abuse from home fans, suggesting he had faced similar jibes after the defeat in Perth.

"You have got 48,000 people all full of drink and all they want to see is their team win," he said. "When you turn them away, it is a great experience. A great feeling.

"I was coming out from the coaches' box and they all have their scarves on. When did Australians start wearing scarves? It is all the rage isn’t it? They are not so smart now.

"Before the game they are coming up saying to me [saying]: 'You are going to get belted tonight.' Now they are a little bit more quiet. So that's good. I enjoy that."

Australia head coach Dave Rennie refused to use the Wallabies' lengthy injury list as an excuse for their series defeat to England.

Eddie Jones' side added to their tour triumph in 2016 by making it back-to-back series wins Down Under, beating Australia 21-17 in the deciding Test on Saturday.

The tourists fell behind in the series after going down 30-28 in Perth, but levelled up with a 25-17 win in Brisbane last weekend.

Australia started brightly on Saturday, moving 10-3 ahead after Tom Wright's try. England recovered as Freddie Steward and Marcus Smith went over to turn the contest firmly in their favour at 21-10, and stood firm after Folau Fainga'a powered over later on.

The hosts were without 11 players due to injury or suspension, but Rennie believes his side should still have had enough quality to overcome England.

"We had a good enough side on the field to win tonight," he told reporters. "What it highlights is we're creating really good depth and I think a lot of guys who've got an opportunity have really stood up.

"You've just got to find a way, don't you? Injury is part of the game and we did enough tonight, but you have to be clinical and take opportunities.

"We created a lot of opportunities. I think we went in with the right plan, we just weren't clinical enough.

"If we turn a couple of those opportunities early on in the game, we start applying pressure to them. It's disappointing because at this level you have you got to take your chances and we left a lot out there."

Australia captain Michael Hooper conceded the series loss hurts, and also called on his team-mates to become more clinical.

"Dave's talked about just being clinical in those situations, you want to be a team that can grind out a win," he said.

"They get to your end, they take points, pick up some scraps there, get more points, and then you have to start looking at the line, try to maul, we can't just do 3-6-9 walk on them.

"Their ability to stack points on was a credit to them across the series, and they just keep applying that pressure with their kick game. 

"England did really well there. They had injuries too so they grinded out a series win.

"In terms of our learnings there's a heap for us. We've blooded some new players so that's a great thing. With injury comes opportunity.

"We were hurting last week, now we're going to be hurting even more. So it's going to be a long three weeks until we play again."

Eddie Jones believes England demonstrated they are heading in the right direction following the gutsy series victory over Australia.

Jones' side added to their tour triumph in 2016 by making it back-to-back series wins Down Under, beating the Wallabies 21-17 in the deciding Test on Saturday.

The tourists fell behind in the series after going down 30-28 in Perth, but levelled up by prevailing 25-17 in Brisbane last weekend.

They made a slow start to the third Test, falling 10-3 behind after Tom Wright crossed for the hosts. Yet England recovered as Freddie Steward and Marcus Smith went over to turn the contest firmly in their favour at 21-10, and they stood firm after Folau Fainga'a powered over later on.

It meant England lifted the Ella-Mobbs Trophy, justifying the backing from Jones. Despite a disappointing Six Nations campaign, Jones maintained a constant view that his team were making significant advances, which he feels has been justified by this series victory.

The head coach hopes the progress will continue as the 2023 World Cup in France edges closer, with his side aiming to go one better after losing 32-12 to South Africa in the 2019 final.

"We weren't at our best in this Test, but we kept fighting, and we kept in the game – particularly the defence of our finishers at the end was outstanding – and that got us the result," Jones told Sky Sports.

"We were just a little bit off, but we kept fighting, and it was a great effort by the leaders. It's a really positive step. We've always felt the team is going in the right direction. Sometimes, the results don't reflect that.

"At the end of the game, we had six players with under 10 caps, so it is an inexperienced squad who will really benefit from an experience like this.

"They understand how hard they have to fight to win a Test match away from home. Some of our guys have now won two series away in Australia. I am so proud of their efforts.

"We are in a good position. We have just got to slowly, slowly keep improving. We want to be at our best by next October."

England captain Courtney Lawes hailed the determination of his team-mates after the tourists sealed a series victory over Australia on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' side made it back-to-back series wins Down Under - adding to their 2016 triumph - as they recovered from a slow start to defeat the Wallabies 21-17 in the deciding Test.

The hosts, who won the opening Test 30-28 before they were pegged back 25-17 in the second last weekend, dominated early proceedings at Sydney Cricket Ground, establishing a 10-3 lead thanks to Tom Wright's try.

But England came back before the break through Freddie Steward, while Marcus Smith also crossed in the second half to put the 2003 world champions in control at 21-10 to the good.

Folau Fainga'a went over late on as the hosts set up a grandstand finish, but Lawes and his team-mates stood firm to lift the Ella-Mobbs Cup.

"It really shows what it means for us to play this team," the skipper told Sky Sports. "We had a tough start to this series, but have showed what we're made of.

"We didn't come out how we wanted to today. The message at half-time was to stick together. We knew what we wanted to do. We showed what it means to play for this team.

"We did what we wanted to do to improve week on week. It's a proud moment, for sure.

"We've still got a lot to learn. We can win a game like this where you don't really fire a shot, and you take your chances when you can. We did a lot of defending."

Meanwhile, try scorer Steward also heaped praise on the efforts of Jones' side, saying: "The boys just dug in and gave everything. To win with an effort like that, it was a proper Test match. It's special.

"To come here, dig in with an effort like that at the back end of the season is pretty awesome. It is a great way to end the season especially having been one down is amazing."

England made sure of only their second series victory in Australia after coming from behind to beat the Wallabies 21-17 in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Eddie Jones' side recovered in impressive fashion from a slow start that saw them trail 10-3 after Tom Wright's try.

The tourists hit back with Freddie Steward and Marcus Smith crossing, and they came under late pressure before securing another triumph Down Under, six years after their first.

England weathered a storm during the early stages; Noah Lolesio missing a first kick of the series before the right boot of Farrell put Jones' team in front.

The hosts soon established the lead that their early pressure deserved. Marika Koroibete's lay-off released Wright, who broke from just inside his own half and exchanged passes with Nic White before going over.

Lolesio booted the conversion and added a penalty, but England finished the half strongly. After Farrell trimmed the gap with a penalty, England edged their noses back in front at 11-10 when Steward crossed in the corner after a lengthy spell of pressure.

Farrell could not add the extras but stretched the England advantage with a penalty early in the second half, before Smith pounced on a poor lineout with a 55-metre sprint for the line.

Folau Fainga'a powered over 14 minutes from time to set up a nervy finish, but the tourists stood firm to seal the series.

England head coach Eddie Jones has called for World Rugby to take action and stop the "incessant" interventions from the television match official (TMO) during matches.

Jones' side beat Australia 25-17 last weekend in a second Test that saw 26 penalties, two yellow cards and the TMO heavily involved throughout.

The contest spanned almost two hours, while Ireland's victory over New Zealand on the same day saw three yellows and a red dished out in the first half alone in Dunedin.

Speaking on the back of his side's victory in Brisbane that levelled up the three-match series, Jones said rugby union's laws are now "out of control".

And in his final news conference ahead of Saturday's decisive third Test in Sydney, Jones went one step further by urging the sport's top governing body to intervene now.

"I don’t want to see a New Zealand-Ireland game like that ever again," Jones said. 

"Otherwise imagine at the next World Cup … you play a quarter-final, you get a red card and two yellows, you're down to 12 men and it's just ridiculous. 

"I've been speaking to a few ex-coaches. The referees, coaches and players need to get together and say 'This is the game we want. This is the game people want to see'. 

"I'm certainly going to be pushing for it because I've had enough."

The issues previously raised by Jones were further highlighted on Wednesday in the thrilling and high-tempo State of Origin decider.

"We've got to keep the game safe, don't get me wrong, but accidental head contact and this incessant use of the TMO, we've got to cut that out," Jones added.

"We've got to get a better balance in the game. There's a rhythm to how rugby is looked at and officiated and we've got to get in a good rhythm again. 

"We don't have it at the moment. Every time we get a flow in the game, there's a stoppage.

"We've just gone too far down one road. There are discussions all the time and World Rugby are doing their best. 

"But certainly before November I'm going to be agitating for something like [a summit]. Let's get the game going."

Eddie Jones implored his England side to be "even better" in the Test series decider against Australia, where he insisted the mindsets of his players will be vital.

England ended a four-match losing streak by defeating Australia 25-17 in Brisbane to level the three-Test series, teeing up a winner-takes-all decider in Sydney on Saturday.

The tourists have won four of their past five games in Oceania, having done so just once in their previous 12 away matches against teams from that continent.

Jack van Poortvliet impressed in the second Test but has been replaced by Danny Care, though coach Jones suggested the decision is tactical.

"We've got to be even better. And it's all about the mindset of the players," Jones told Sky Sports.

"Physically we're really good, but the players have got to attune themselves to how important the start is. We're aiming to get that right with our boys.

"We've had a really good week. We were pretty battered after the Brisbane Test, so we didn't train until Tuesday but we had a good session and an even better session on Wednesday.

"We've got a younger team again, but they're all up for the challenge, and some of our old players have come back, like the Vunipolas, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jonny Hill are coming back to their best, so it's a good team we've got in place and we're looking forward to the challenge of winning the series.

"It's a tactical decision [Care for Van Poortvliet]. We feel that JVP will handle the latter part of the game really well, and that's where the game's going to be won and lost.

"And the first part of the game with the New Zealand referee Paul Williams is probably going to be a lot of quick ruck ball, and that's where Danny is at his absolute best.

"So we're just trying to maximise the strengths of each of those two players – JVP was magnificent last week."

England will be without Sam Underhill and Maro Itoje after the pair suffered concussions in the second Test, while Tom Curry has returned home after sustaining the same injury.

Ollie Chessum and Lewis Ludlam have been introduced to replace Underhill and Itoje, and Jones has little concern the pair will slot straight into the team.

"[Ludlam] has energy. He works really hard on and off the ball, and he's also a very good communicator on the field, so whilst we'll miss Sam and Tom Curry, we won't lose anything with Lewis," Jones added.

"Maro's been one of those guys that has been in nearly every Test team I've picked in the time I've been here.

"So we'll miss him but Chessum's a good young player, he's been training really well, he was part of the very successful Leicester Tigers team and he'll enjoy the opportunity."

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