Wallabies squad unchanged for Eden Park challenge
August 19, 2014
Kurtley Beale will be hoping for a bit more more room to move in the second Test © Getty Images
Coach Ewen McKenzie has named an unchanged 23-man Wallabies line-up for Saturday night's second Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Auckland.
McKenzie resisted calls to reinstate Bernard Foley at fly-half to retain Kurtley Beale as Australia's chief playmaker as the Wallabies bid to break their 28-year drought in Auckland. Beale had an influential game in the first Test, kicking all of Australia's points and McKenzie is backing the mercurial match-winner to continue sparking the Wallabies attack in more favourable conditions this weekend.
"We were impressed with the pressure we were able to apply in the opening Test and, despite some errors, were pleased with the intent of the group to continue attacking despite the poor weather conditions," McKenzie said. "I imagine both teams are excited by the prospect of a dry evening in Auckland on Saturday night, which will have an influence on the way the game is played.
"For us, we know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack. Selection is never easy, although we've made a lot of tough decisions in this space over the past 12 months with the ultimate goal of winning games. You're always looking to improve and I'm confident the sum of those hard choices has put us in a better position today.
"While we didn't quite get there on Saturday night, I do know that we've made good progress since our first Test against New Zealand a year ago. That gives us some confidence heading into what will be an extremely tough challenge in Auckland on Saturday night."
Australia has not won at the venue since 1986, while the All Blacks have won 32 straight games at Eden Park against all opposition dating back to 1994. However, McKenzie said his players wouldn't be daunted by the Eden Park history.
"Recent results would suggest Eden Park hasn't been a happy place for Australia and already this week we've seen that not many people are giving us a chance in Auckland," he said. "Sporting records are there to be broken and we'll look forward to the opportunity of playing the All Blacks in their own backyard on Saturday night."
Wallabies: Israel Folau; Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne; Kurtley Beale, Nic White; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (captain), Scott Fardy; Rob Simmons, Sam Carter; Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper. Replacements: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani
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