Joel Kulasingham runs you through all you need to know ahead of the Eden Park double header featuring the Black Ferns and the All Blacks.
Black Ferns v Wallaroos, 5pm kick-off
Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore has named an unchanged side to the one that defeated the Wallaroos 31-11 in Sydney last week. Debutants Ruahei Demant and Alena Saili retain their starting spots in the squad. The Wallaroos made one change with vice-captain Sarah Riordan returning to their midfield after missing last week‘s test with a late withdrawal.
Moore said there is room for improvement despite the relatively comfortable win last week, and that the Ferns will be looking to be more clinical this week.
“In Sydney we adjusted our gameplan when Australia started shutting down our outside backs. Our forwards really stepped up and helped us get the points,” said Moore. “It showed we have the ability to be nimble but we‘ve talked about the fact we created opportunities, and didn‘t always finish them.”
Similarly to their male counterparts last week, the Black Ferns were dominant at set-piece time with their captain Fiao‘o Faamausili going over for a hat-trick – all from lineout drives. However, expect the backs to be more expansive this game, especially with the big home crowd behind them.
Black Ferns (caps in brackets):
1. Phillipa Love (3) 2. Fiao‘o Faamausili (53, Captain) 3. Aldora Itunu (16) / Leilani Perese (1) 4. Eloise Blackwell (33) 5. Charmaine Smith (17) 6. Charmaine McMenamin (15) 7. Les Elder (10) 8. Aroha Savage (29) 9. Kendra Cocksedge (43, Vice Captain) 10. Ruahei Demant (1) 11. Alena Saili (1) 12. Theresa Fitzpatrick (8) 13. Stacey Waaka (12) 14. Renee Wickliffe (31) 15. Selica Winiata (32, Vice Captain)
Reserves: 16. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (21) 17. Cristo Tofa (1) 18. Leilani Perese (1) / Aleisha Nelson (26) 19. Jackie Patea-Fereti (13) 20. Linda Itunu (36) 21. Kristina Sue (11) 22. Krysten Cottrell (1) 23. Chelsea Alley (16)
1. Emily Robinson 2. Liz Patu (C) 3. Evelyn Horomia 4. Michelle Milward 5.Rebecca Clough 6. Emily Chancellor 7.Georgia O‘Neill 8. Grace Hamilton 9. Cobie-jane Morgan 10. Trilleen Pomare 11. Samantha Treherne 12. Sarah Riordan 13. Atasi Lafai 14. Mhicca Carter 15. Mahalia Murphy
Reserves: 16. Darryl Wickliffe, 17.Melissa Fatu, 18. Hana Ngaha, 19. Alisha Hewett 20. Kiri Lingman, 21. Fenella Hake, 22. Crystal Maguire, 23. Shanice Parker
Aroha Savage. Photo / Photosport facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
All Blacks v Wallabies, 7.35pm kick-off
The All Blacks on the other hand, have had a major reshuffle in their backline. With injuries to Rieko Ioane (hamstring) and Ryan Crotty (concussion), storming midfielder Ngani Laumape and fullback Jordie Barrett coming into the starting 15. This means Ben Smith switches from fullback to left wing with Waisake Naholo – coming off one his best performances in an All Black jersey – moving to the right side. The starting pack stays the same, with the only change being on the bench seeing Ofa Tuungafasi replacing last week‘s debutant Tim Perry.
It‘s Owen Franks‘ turn to hit a ton, becoming the ninth All Black to play 100 test matches when he runs out against the Wallabies. The 30-year-old made his debut against Italy in Christchurch in 2009 aged 21, and has been an All Black stalwart ever since. He was on fire at the All Blacks press conference during the week, about bringing a protein shake to his wedding to avoid being “hangry”. Another fun fact: Franks holds the record for playing the most tests without scoring a try.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has reacted to last week‘s disappointing performance – especially at scrumtime – by dropping both of his starting props. Scott Sio returns to replace Tom Robertson while Allan Alalaatoa has been promoted in place of Sekope Kepu. Tongan Thor Taniela Tupou has failed to overcome his hamstring injury which made him miss last week‘s test.
Wallabies rookie and last week‘s sole tryscorer Jack Maddocks will make his first start replacing star fullback Israel Folau. Dane Haylett-Petty will move to fullback with Maddocks coming into the wing.
All Blacks (caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (35) 2. Codie Taylor (33) 3. Owen Franks (99) 4. Brodie Retallick (69) 5. Samuel Whitelock (100) 6. Liam Squire (18) 7. Sam Cane (56) 8. Kieran Read – captain (110) 9. Aaron Smith (75) 10. Beauden Barrett (65) 11. Waisake Naholo (20) 12. Ngani Laumape (6) 13. Jack Goodhue (2) 14. Ben Smith (69) 15. Jordie Barrett (5)
Reserves: 16. Nathan Harris (14) 17. Karl Tu‘inukuafe (4) 18. Ofa Tuungafasi (17) 19. Scott Barrett (20) 20. Ardie Savea (26) 21. TJ Perenara (46) 22. Damian McKenzie (16) 23. Anton Lienert-Brown (25)
1. Scott Sio (46 Tests) 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (83 Tests) 3. Allan Alaalatoa (24 Tests) 4. Izack Rodda (8 Tests) 5. Adam Coleman (24 Tests) 6. Lukhan Tui (8 Tests) 7. Michael Hooper (c) (83 Tests) 8. David Pocock (70 Tests) 9. Will Genia (91 Tests) 10. Bernard Foley (59 Tests) 11. Marika Koroibete (12 Tests) 12. Kurtley Beale (75 Tests) 13. Reece Hodge (28 Tests) 14. Jack Maddocks (1 Test) 15. Dane Haylett-Petty (22 Tests)
Reserves: 16. Folau Faingaa* 17. Tom Robertson (22 Tests) 18. Sekope Kepu (95 Tests) 19. Rob Simmons (86 Tests) 20. Pete Samu (4 Tests) 21. Nick Phipps (65 Tests) 22. Matt Toomua (34 Tests) 23. Tom Banks*
Sam Whitelock. Photo / Photosport facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
It‘s a sell out at Eden Park
It will be the Black Ferns‘ first game on home soil since winning the World Cup last year. They will be hoping to top the 28,846 crowd that turned up to watch them in Sydney last week, which un-officially has been named the biggest crowd ever for a women‘s rugby international.
“Eden Park is our favourite ground,” Faamausili . “My family and friends are gonna be there. We‘re on home soil, and you couldn‘t ask for a better venue.
“We play for our families and to have our families right there is even more special. You‘ll see a lot of emotion pouring out of the girls this weekend for sure.”
Meanwhile, all talk in the lead up to the All Blacks test has been about the Wallabies‘ Eden Park hoodoo – they haven‘t won at Eden Park since 1986, and haven‘t won on New Zealand soil since 2001.
But the All Blacks will still be wary as they only need to look back last year to see what a wounded Wallabies side can do, when they rushed out to a 17-0 lead over the All Blacks in Dunedin after being thumped in Sydney the previous week. (However, the Wallabies still ended up losing that game in the final moments.)
The Black Ferns are huge favourites against the Wallaroos, paying only $1.02 at the New Zealand TAB. A Wallaroos upset will pay $12. The All Blacks‘ dominant Eden Park record has also made them heavy favourites at the TAB, paying $1.04 to the Wallabies‘ $9.
How to watch:
The Herald will be live blogging both games with coverage of the Black Ferns starting from 4.45pm followed soon after by the All Blacks. RadioSport will also have live commentary. Sky TV will be showing the Black Ferns match live on Sky Sport 1 with coverage of the Black Ferns starting at 4.30pm and the All Blacks at 6.55pm.