Weber gets nod at scrum-half as All Blacks target Wallabies
PERTH – Brad Weber will start at scrum-half for the All Blacks when they face Australia this weekend, with coach Ian Foster ringing the changes for the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth.
The 30-year-old was preferred to the experienced TJ Perenara in place of veteran Aaron Smith, in a depleted team also missing fellow regulars Sam Whitelock and Richie Mo'unga.
All three have remained in New Zealand to be with their wives who are due to give birth soon.
Beauden Barrett returns to the starting side at fly-half while Anton Lienert-Brown is back from a knee injury at centre, outside David Havili.
Rieko Ioane moves to the left wing, Will Jordan is on the right wing and Jordie Barrett takes on the fullback role in place of Damian McKenzie, who is relegated to the bench.
There is just the one change in the forward pack from New Zealand's crushing 57-22 win over the Wallabies to seal the three-game Bledisloe Cup in Auckland last month.
A proud pasifika man captaining the All Blacks! Lesssssgo❤️ Would’ve loved to follow you into battle my uso! @tanaumaga , Jerry Collins, Kevin Mealamu some special names to be alongside ❤️ You make our community proud @ardiesavea ✊🏽❤️ pic.twitter.com/Nd5Xb4afa4
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) September 3, 2021
It sees Scott Barrett come in for Whitelock, who captained the side in Auckland. That role has gone to Ardie Savea for the first time.
“We are ready, and the team is really determined to finish off this block of Tests against Australia with a top performance,” said coach Ian Foster, who was last week reappointed through to the 2023 World Cup.
“We've had a really unique situation going into this Test, with quarantine back in New Zealand and a ‘soft' quarantine here in Perth.
“But the work that has gone in preparing the players has been outstanding, so when the whistle goes on Sunday, we'll be ready.”
The match, which doubles as round two of the Rugby Championship, was supposed to be played last weekend.
Our 2️⃣3️⃣ to face Australia on Sunday 🔥
6:00pm kick-off NZT pic.twitter.com/QYgvBeK46y
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 3, 2021
But the All Blacks refused to travel until there was certainty around where the rest of the pandemic-hit Rugby Championship would be played, a move that angered Rugby Australia and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
Governing body Sanzaar has since announced that the tournament, which also features world champions South Africa and Argentina, will be played entirely in Australia's Queensland state.
New Zealand (15-1): Jordie Barrett; Will Jordan, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Brad Webber; Ardie Savea (capt), Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane; Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick; Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, George Bower
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Angus Ta'avao, Tupou Vaa'i, Ethan Blackadder, TJ Perenara, Damian McKenzie, George Bridge