Rugby: McKenzie opts for traditional bench

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, flanked by captain Adam Ashley-cooper, left, and lock Scott Fardy. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, flanked by captain Adam Ashley-cooper, left, and lock Scott Fardy. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has finalised his bench for tomorrow's Rugby Championship opener, omitting Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman for the clash with the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium.

McKenzie has opted for a traditional 5-3 split on the bench, with hooker James Hanson, props Ben Alexander and Pek Cowan, lock Will Skelton and back-rower Scott Higginbotham covering the forwards.

The three backline replacements are halfback Nick Phipps, five-eighth Bernard Foley and outside back Tevita Kuridrani.

Unbeaten last year, the All Blacks are shooting for a world-record 18th consecutive test win.

But the Wallabies are quietly confident of ending this remarkable streak after chalking up seven consecutive wins of their own.

Veteran centre Adam Ashley-Cooper says the Waratahs' breakthrough Super Rugby final triumph over the Crusaders two weeks ago in Sydney has fuelled the Wallabies' belief they can break the 12-year transtasman domination.

- AAP

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