All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has withdrawn from Sunday's Bledisloe Cup opener against the Wallabies due to an Achilles tendon problem.

A tight Achilles tendon means full-back Barrett will sit out game one of the series in Wellington, where he will be replaced by New Zealand team-mate Damian McKenzie.

Barrett had been named in the starting line-up alongside younger brother Jordie to face trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

"Beaudy's Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday [Friday] afternoon," All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said on Saturday, on the eve of his first match in charge.

"It settled down overnight, not too bad and he's kicking out there now, but we made a decision, first Test, to pull him out early.

"It certainly looks like that [a one-game injury]. He's kicking now and running around but we just felt the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesterday, we didn't want to take that chance tomorrow [Sunday]."

All Blacks captain Sam Cane added: "He probably could have played at a push but there's a fair bit of rugby ahead.

"It's disappointing for Beaudie obviously ... but he knows it's the smart decision."

McKenzie replaces Barrett, despite not being named in New Zealand's original matchday 23.

"He's a quality 15 and ready to go, and it means less disruption to the rest of the squad. All the other positions stay the same," Foster said.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett will start at full-back for New Zealand in their Bledisloe Cup opener against trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

Barrett will continue in the role as the All Blacks host the Wallabies in Wellington on Sunday, with younger brother Jordie named on the right wing.

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster – in his first Test in charge – has also selected Richie Mo'unga at five-eighth against Australia, while George Bridge has been given the nod ahead of Caleb Clarke in the back-three.

Debutants Clarke, lock Tupou Vaa'i and loose forward Hoskins Sotutu are among the reserves, including Dane Coles.

"We really wanted to see how players adapted and fitted in and how comfortable they were coming back into the environment and so there were a number of positions that we wanted to keep an open mind about," Foster said.

"We're excited by the group.  There's a lot of talent in there and we've got players jumping out of their skin and wanting an opportunity. It's been fantastic to come together and know at the end of the week there's a Test match.

"There's been a lot of hard work, but the tightness of the group and the desire and the excitement about playing an international game is right up there."

 

New Zealand: Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo'unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane. Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett.
Replacements: Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa'I, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke.

Uncapped trio Hunter Paisami, Harry Wilson and Filipo Daugunu will make their debuts for Australia against New Zealand in Sunday's Bledisloe Cup opener.

Reds trio Paisami, Wilson and Daugunu are in the Wallabies team to face the All Blacks at Sky Stadium in Wellington, where Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio could also make his debut after being named on the bench.

James O'Connor will play his first Test in the number 10 jersey since 2013, but Australia star Jordan Petaia is absent through injury, while experienced full-back Dane Haylett-Petty also misses out as he continues to regain his fitness.

Dave Rennie is preparing for his first match in charge of the Wallabies since replacing Michael Cheika as head coach in November last year.

"It's a privilege for me to be able to announce the first Australian side of the year and especially to name a number of players who will wear the gold jersey for the first time," Rennie said.

"I've been impressed with how quickly the squad has come together. There's a good group of men here and the last three weeks has given us a chance to work hard and learn more about each other.

"We need to demonstrate that brotherhood and connection on Sunday."

 

Australia: James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Philip, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper, Pete Samu, Nic White, James O'Connor, Marika Koroibete, Matt To'omua, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, Tom Banks.
Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Reece Hodge.

New Zealand will not have to quarantine over Christmas after their second Rugby Championship meeting with Australia was brought forward.

The All Blacks were scheduled to face the Wallabies in Sydney to close out the six-week tournament, which was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, on December 12, meaning that after returning to New Zealand they would still be in a 14-day period of self-isolation on Christmas Day.

However, SANZAAR and tournament hosts Rugby Australia have rescheduled the Bledisloe Cup Test, which will now open the tournament in Sydney on October 31.

South Africa's second Test against Argentina will still be played on December 12 but has been moved from ANZ Stadium to Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium.

"This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels," said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.

"It is important to further acknowledge the sacrifice of a number of the players and team management that will have been away from home for close to six months by the time the Rugby Championship has concluded. This is again a testament to the strong values that encompass our game.

"The 12-match Rugby Championship is now all set for kick-off. The Argentina Pumas have already arrived in Australia and we all look forward to an exciting and vibrant tournament that will undoubtedly showcase the best of southern hemisphere rugby."

Rugby Australia's interim chief executive Rob Clarke added: "I'm pleased this draw is now resolved and that the SANZAAR joint venture has reached a suitable compromise.

"Each party has had to sacrifice something, and I think that is a true indication of the strength of the SANZAAR alliance."

James Haskell joked "highly influential" England coach Eddie Jones still scares him and backed the Australian to secure Six Nations glory when the competition is finished this month.

The annual northern hemisphere tournament was suspended back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the final four matches to take place at the end of October.

Jones' side are top of the table on points difference from France, whose win over England in round one means a grand slam is out of the question.

But Haskell believes the meticulous Jones will have consumed so much rugby that England, whose remaining match is away to Italy on October 31, will get the job done.

"I think I'm going to back England. Obviously, France had their opportunity but let it slip just before lockdown and the wheels sort of fell off the world," Haskell told Stats Perform News.

"I think the reason I'm backing England is I know what Eddie would have been like in terms of communicating with the clubs and the players and he will have been watching, scrutinising these games.

"There's been so much rugby for him to digest, two games a week when guys are getting opportunities, they're playing lots of rugby, they're going to be fit and ready to go during this period.

"There's no building time, you have to hit the game straight off the bat - I think England are in a great position to do that, I can see them winning it. It obviously won't be a grand slam Six Nations but it'll be potentially another trophy in the locker.

"However, you just don't know how the other teams have reacted, I think this period will probably be negative for France. They've played bits of rugby but been out of the mix for quite a while."

Former England forward Haskell was speaking to promote his autobiography 'What a Flanker', in which he discusses his relationship with Jones.

Haskell has nothing but admiration for Jones and the impact he had on his career, even if the Australian can still strike fear in him.

"Yeah of course, I spoke to Eddie about it [the book], he's asked about it," Haskell added.

"He was responsible for some of the best rugby of my career, he created an unbelievable winning environment, he showed me how to be the best player I could be.

"I always spoke to Eddie about stuff, I still speak to him now. I'm still scared of him now as I think most people are!

"He was hugely influential, I really admire the way he does things, his own path to self-development, his desire to keep getting better, his ever-evolving thought process and the fact he's made mistakes and done things really well and learnt everything in between.

"That was really important to me, I speak about him in glowing terms, so he's got nothing to worry about!"

James Haskell's autobiography 'What a Flanker!' is now available through HarperCollins.

Eddie Jones has named 12 uncapped players to join up for an England training squad a few weeks before their final match of the Six Nations against Italy.

Jones was unable to call on players from six Premiership clubs, with the season still in progress.

The England head coach on Monday included a dozen players who have not yet represented their country, with Ali Crossdale, Fraser Dingwall, Nathan Earle, Alex Mitchell, Ollie Thorley and Jack Clement given the nod.

Alex Dombrandt, Joe Heyes, Simon Kerrod, Lewis Ludlow, Alex Moon and David Ribbans were also in the 28-man squad for a three-day training camp - which starts on Tuesday.

England face the Barbarians on October 25 before taking on Italy in Rome - a match that was postponed in March due to the coronavirus crisis - six days later with the Six Nations title up for grabs.

They will then play four matches as part of the Autumn Nations Cup.

Jones said: "Our preparation to build the team for the Italy game starts now. We have a three-day camp this week and another one next week then we're into the week of our Quilter Cup match against the Barbarians.

"We'll be slowly building up, working on the basics and working on team cohesion. We're excited to be back together in camp representing England. This autumn we want to play for the fans and give them something to smile about."

 

England training squad:

Backs: Ali Crossdale, Elliot Daly, Fraser Dingwall, Nathan Earle, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Piers Francis, George Furbank, Willi Heinz, Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Alex Mitchell, Ollie Thorley, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Jack Clement, Alex Dombrandt, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Simon Kerrod, Lewis Ludlow, Alex Moon, David Ribbans, Jack Singleton, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Mark Wilson.

Michael Cheika will attempt to plot Australia's downfall during the Rugby Championship after taking up a role with Argentina. 

Cheika, who stepped down as Wallabies head coach following the Rugby World Cup last October, has agreed to work as an external advisor for Pumas boss Mario Ledesma, who served as his assistant during his Australia tenure. 

Ledesma believes Cheika can have a significant influence during the six-week tournament in Australia, which starts on November 7. 

"With Michael, we started talking at the beginning of the year," Ledesma said. 

"I proposed to him the idea of working together again and he was immediately interested. We agreed from the first moment. I noticed [he was] very excited. He always liked Argentine rugby a lot. 

"He is a person who can bring us a lot of experience both to the group of players and to the staff. As was the incorporation of 'Tano' [Marcelo Loffreda], in the first days of August. 

"Undoubtedly, it is an excellent opportunity to continue learning because he is a person who thinks a lot about things outside the box who has an innovative and super creative vision, different from that of many coaches that I could cross. 

"In addition, when the Championship was confirmed in Australia, we were able to dialogue and listen to their recommendations about places to train, schedules and even issues related to the weather. 

"For his part, we have already been conducting several talks with him and the entire staff, about issues of the game, defence, attack, types of exercises, individual techniques and others. So that exchange was spectacular."

Rugby Australia has vowed to do "everything in its power" to find a "reasonable resolution" after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) refused to rule out boycotting the Rugby Championship.

NZR on Thursday stated it had not agreed to a schedule that is due to see the All Blacks play their last match of a six-week tournament on December 12, which would leave the players in quarantine for Christmas.

Mark Robinson, the NZR chief executive, said the fixture list broke a commitment from Rugby Australia and governing body SANZAAR for the All Blacks to play their final game of the competition on December 5 - enabling them to spend the festive period with their families.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke says there is ample time to reach an agreement over the scheduling and is confident the four-team competition will be a success.

Clarke said: "For absolute clarity - on two formal occasions - Rugby Australia was supportive of altering the draw so that the Rugby Championship could be played over five weeks.

"On both occasions, that proposal was rejected which means there was never an agreement to finish the tournament on Saturday 5 December 2020.

"That being said, no one wants players and team management to be away from their families and in quarantine over Christmas."

Clarke added: "Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution, and in urging them to exhaust every possible alternative.

"There are still more than two months to go before December 12 so we have plenty of time to find a solution.

"We will continue to work with New Zealand Rugby and support them however we can, just like we are doing with the Springboks and Argentina in assisting with their travel plans, as well as making their stay in Australia as safe and as comfortable as possible during the tournament.

"There have been a number of sacrifices made by each of the SANZAAR joint venture partners to get this far and I want to thank all of them for their flexibility and adaptability.

"There is obviously a lot to achieve in the coming months but I'm confident that under the leadership of each of the joint venture partners, that the 2020 Rugby Championship in Australia will be a great success."

Australia's new era will begin with the same captain as Michael Hooper was reappointed by Dave Rennie on Wednesday.

Head coach Rennie, who replaced Michael Cheika after last year's Rugby World Cup but began work in June, named a youthful first squad earlier this month - including 16 uncapped players, eight of whom debuted in Super Rugby this season.

However, there was still room for six-year Wallabies skipper Hooper, although no captain was initially indicated in the selection.

Rennie had previously said no decision had yet been made on the identity of his on-field leader, but he announced a "straightforward decision" on Wednesday.

"I've been really impressed with Hoops," Rennie said. "We've spoken a lot over the past nine months and it's highlighted his passion and commitment.

"He's a good man with an outstanding work ethic and he's a great role model for our young men coming through.

"He's keen to lead and is highly respected by the Wallaby family. In the end, his appointment was a straightforward decision."

Hooper added: "It's an absolute honour to be the Wallabies captain and I want to thank Dave and the Wallabies management team, as well as Rugby Australia, for their support and endorsement. 

"It's a privilege to wear the Wallabies jersey, I feel proud to lead my team-mates and to represent those players that have before and all Australians.

"I'm really excited about this group and the direction we are heading. We have already spent some quality time together, defining who we are and what we stand for and what we plan to achieve in the coming months."

New Zealand have named seven uncapped players in their squad for the 2020 Rugby Championship.

New coach Ian Foster, assistant John Plumtree and former All Black Grant Fox have selected a 35-man group.

The newcomers are Alex Hodgman, Tupou Vaa'i, Quinten Strange, Cullen Grace, Hoskins Sotutu, Caleb Clarke and Will Jordan.

However, it remains to be seen when, where or indeed if the tournament will go ahead as the coronavirus crisis continues to impact on sport across the globe.

Argentina have confirmed six positive COVID-19 tests recently, casting significant doubt over the viability of the tournament.

Nonetheless, Foster was pleased to be able to announce his squad for whatever challenges may lie ahead this year.

"We're hugely excited at the calibre of the players selected for this All Blacks squad of 2020," he said. 

"It's been a great process working through the selections and I've really enjoyed working with Plums [Plumtree] as part of the new selectors group.

"Plums, Foxy and I have been as excited as everyone at the rugby we have seen in what has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone.

"The result is that we can now announce a team that is rich in experience and a little battle-hardened after the Rugby World Cup, but forward looking with the inclusion of a number of new players.

"We're delighted with the balance of the group and we look forward to whatever the challenges of 2020 throw at us."

Foster took charge after Steve Hansen stood down following New Zealand's 2019 World Cup campaign, when was ended by England at the semi-final stage.

All Blacks squad:

Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Quinten Strange, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane (capt), Shannon Frizell, Cullen Grace, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Caleb Clarke, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece.

New Zealand hosting the Rugby Championship this year is close to getting the green light, according to SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.

The annual competition was initially due to get under way on August 8 and see the six rounds of home and away fixtures contested over the space of eight weeks, but the coronavirus pandemic caused it to be pushed back.

November 7 has now been slated as the start date for a six-week Rugby Championship hosted entirely in New Zealand, which Marinos revealed is near to being confirmed.

"I feel as if we're close. If numbers and infections [in New Zealand] remain at this level or start improving, then we're very optimistic," Marinos told Stuff.

"But one can't ignore the fact of what we saw in New Zealand a few weeks ago, when there was an outbreak out of nowhere and swift reaction that was taken in order to contain it.

"There is always that element of unpredictability, but my philosophy throughout this whole pandemic is you've got to control the controllables, and make sure we're doing everything we can so that when the green light is given we can turn things on.”

He added: "We certainly remain very optimistic and positive to get the Rugby Championship underway.

"We're doing everything we can within our confines, and certainly working in a very cooperative way with the New Zealand government.

"NZ Rugby have been leading a lot of those discussions. We keep plugging away."

It has been reported that reigning champions and World Cup winners South Africa, Australia and Argentina could be based together in Queenstown in the South Island, with the All Blacks travelling around the country as normal.

Marinos was unwilling to confirm whether the Rugby Championship would follow the examples in other sports by creating a bio-secure bubble for teams.

"We have explored the possibility of centralising the other teams and just bringing them in and out for the various games. But again, that is very fluid. It's just a concept that we have considered," he said.

"The biggest challenge has always been that the players are going to be in a safe environment, and there is no doubt that New Zealand and Australia are probably safer than most major centres from an outbreak perspective.

"The other thing goes to player welfare. The quarantine can be managed if there is mobility and movement, and they can prepare.

"Given the stop-start nature of the seasons so far, it is imperative that players get as much physical activity as often as possible in order for them to stand up to the rigours of six Test matches in six weeks."

South Africa international RG Snyman faces a long spell on the sidelines after Munster confirmed the Rugby World Cup-winning lock has torn his anterior-cruciate ligament.

Snyman only made his debut for the province on Saturday against Leinster and landed awkwardly having stolen a lineout in the early stages of the Pro14 fixture.

Munster have confirmed that the 25-year-old has torn his ACL and will now meet with a specialist to discuss surgery.

Snyman has won 23 caps for the Springboks and was part of the squad which won the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Former Scotland captain John Barclay has announced his retirement at the age of 33. 

The back-rower won 76 caps for his country and played in three Rugby World Cups during an illustrious 16-year professional career. 

Barclay played for Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh either side of a spell with the Scarlets, winning the Pro14 title with the Welsh region in 2017. 

Edinburgh announced in April that Barclay would be leaving the club and he has now decided to hang up his boots.

Barclay told Scottishrugby.org: "After much thought I've decided to call time on my career. When you know, you know and whilst COVID-19 has left a frustrating finish, the end isn't about the fairytale. The whole story has been a fairytale. 

"The opportunity to get to do the thing I loved as a job for 16 years has provided me with enough memories to last a lifetime. 

"Whilst there are games that were particularly memorable, and undoubtedly I will miss the physical brutality of the game, what I'll miss more than anything is the camaraderie and sense of fulfilment after a game, that comes from sharing a joint goal and purpose with friends. The memories off the pitch were as remarkable as the ones on it. 

"To get capped was beyond my wildest dream as a child growing up. To be able to captain my country will be something I will be eternally proud of beyond anything else. 

"To know I will never run out at Murrayfield does leave me with a tinge of sadness, but I was a supporter before I played for the team and I will be there as the team's most fervent supporter."

Six Nations has confirmed the tournament will be completed in October and guidance on potential spectator attendance will follow "in due course".

The World Rugby Council last week approved for Ireland to face Italy on October 24, with the final round of matches taking place a week later.

Ireland will stage bottom side Italy at the Aviva Stadium in a showdown that should have taken place on March 7, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales will take on Scotland on October 31 at a venue that has not yet been confirmed, with England travelling to face Italy at Stadio Olimpico and France doing battle with Ireland at Stade de France on the same day. 

England were above France on points difference when the vast majority of sport worldwide was halted in March and it remains to be seen whether fans will be allowed in to see the conclusion of the competition.

A Six Nations statement released on Wednesday said: "In rescheduling these matches, the health and safety of players, associated staff and supporters has been at the forefront of our thinking.

"We remain in close contact with all relevant authorities across the respective jurisdictions to ensure these matches take place in a safe environment and we will announce further details of health and safety protocols and guidance on spectator attendance in due course."

Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel said: "Public health remains the number one priority and while we must continue to be vigilant and cognisant of the dynamic and fast changing external environment, we are nonetheless extremely pleased to be moving in the right direction."

Eddie Jones has expressed delight at Manu Tuilagi's decision to stay in England and is not concerned that Owen Farrell will be playing in the Championship next season.

Tuilagi this week joined Sale Sharks on a deal until the end of next season after failing to agree terms to remain with Leicester Tigers.

The British and Irish Lion was linked with a move to France or a code swap, options which would have ended his England career.

Jones says the 29-year-old's switch to Sale is great news for the Rugby World Cup runners-up.

The England head coach said: "Manu made up his mind what he was going to do. We had a couple of phone calls, we kept in contact the whole time.

"I gave him a small piece of advice, but he knew what he wanted to do. He's a valuable Test player, his performance in the World Cup and Six Nations indicated there is still more in him and I'm delighted by his decision.

"It's obviously a difficult time for everyone at the moment and we are glad he's made that decision."

Farrell will not be on the move after committing his long-term future to Saracens, who are heading for the second tier due to persistent salary-cap breaches.

It was also revealed that Mako Vunipola, Elliot Daly and Jamie George will stay with Sarries this week and Jones says the European champions’ England contingent will be picked if they are performing well enough.

He said: "I'll be comfortable [picking Saracens players] if they're in good form. Players who have a track record of Test match success, I'll have a pretty good idea of where they are and where they need to be.

"My understanding is most of the younger guys at Saracens are moving to other clubs so they will not have the same issues that the older players have. 

"Without sounding too grandiose, if I look at Owen Farrell it doesn't matter what game he plays I've got a pretty good understanding of where he needs to be."

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