Aussies make one change

Australia coach John Connolly has made just one change to his starting XV for Saturday's meeting with New Zealand from the side which lost to South Africa in their opening Tri-Nations match a fortnight ago. [more]

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Australia coach John Connolly has made just one change to his starting XV for Saturday’s meeting with New Zealand from the side which lost to South Africa in their opening Tri-Nations match a fortnight ago.

Utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper comes into the starting line-up for winger Drew Mitchell.

It will be the third different position for Ashley-Cooper after starting in the number 12 and 13 jerseys for the Wallabies in four Test appearances this year.

Ashley-Cooper’s promotion sees Western Force back Scott Staniforth come into the 22 on the reserves bench alongside Mark Gerrard and five forwards – Adam Freier, Al Baxter, Mark Chisholm, Stephen Hoiles and Phil Waugh.

With Waugh starting on the bench, Stirling Mortlock will again skipper the side with George Smith being retained in the starting line-up as vice-captain for the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests this year.

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Connolly has warned the Wallabies need to produce a complete performance to topple the All Blacks. 

"New Zealand’s strength is in their depth," said Connolly.
"We saw the impact their (reserves) bench made against South Africa last week and they are just so strong from (jersey) one to 22. To beat them we will need to play our best rugby and do the little things well.

"You can’t afford to give the All Blacks any opportunities because they have incredible talent across the field and have the ability to hurt you from any position."

Connolly also admitted his team is looking forward to playing in front of a near-capacity MCG for the first time since 1998. 

"It will be a tremendous occasion for the players and a great spectacle for the fans," said the Wallabies coach. 

"I think the fans will see a typically tough Test between Australia and New Zealand. Bledisloe Cups are battles first and foremost.

"It will be a great event and New Zealand as always will be up for the occasion and so will we."

The contest will be the final Bledisloe Cup match in Australia for veteran halves pairing George Gregan and Stephen Larkham. 

Larkham will play his 99th Test for the Wallabies, while he and Gregan are the only survivors from the last Test played at the MCG, also against New Zealand, in 1998.

Squad: J Huxley; A Ashley-Cooper, S Mortlock, M Giteau, L Tuqiri; S Larkham, G Gregan; M Dunning, S Moore, G Shepherdson, N Sharpe, D Vickerman, R Elsom, G Smith, W Palu.

Replacements: A Freier, A Baxter, M Chisholm, S Hoiles, P Waugh, S Staniforth, M Gerrard.

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