The Australian press quite predictably went over the top with headlines and comments after the announcement of the All Blacks team for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clincher at Eden Park.
Desperate All Blacks forced into panic changes, was the theme with dramatic and controversial omissions the scathing way Fox Sports described the changes usually normal to any any team or coach.
Overall, the Australian press were generally very uncomplimentary about the All Blacks after their Wallabies unexpected win over New Zealand last weekend.
Senior players Owen Franks, Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith have been dropped and aren’t even in the matchday 23, with the Nepo Laulala (only 18 tests) who replaces Franks at tighthead prop, and inexperienced Crusaders outside backs duo George Bridge (two tests) and Sevu Reece (one test) who replace Ioane and Smith respectively.
Dropped? Indeed! :They're not playing so you can say they've been dropped," their coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday. "We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think that the guys we put in aren't good enough to do the job on Saturday if we play well. I don't think it's a risk and there's lots of reward in it."
♦ The Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made only one enforced change to his starting side.
Adam Coleman, who will start his first Test of 2019, replaces giant lock Rory Arnold who hurt his hand in Perth with Rob Simmons among the reserves.
It is an otherwise familiar team with Nic White and Christian Lealiifano again preferred to Will Genia and Bernard Foley in the playmaking roles, and former bad boy James O'Connor retaining his place at outside centre.
Utility Adam Ashley-Cooper was included on the bench for his first Test of the year, and an appearance will hand him his 118th cap.
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody. Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Jordie Barrett
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O'Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio. Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Adam Ashley-Cooper.