The Rugby Championship 2021: The Breakdown – All Blacks eye Bledisloe Cup clean sweep

By Sports Desk September 03, 2021

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.

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