Northland centre Jack Goodhue's superb form for the Crusaders in Super Rugby has seen him called up for his first starting test for the All Blacks against Australia, in the first Bledisloe Cup match of the season in Sydney on Saturday.

Goodhue will partner Ryan Crotty in the midfield against the Wallabies. It will be Goodhue's second test start, having made his debut against France in Dunedin in June, when he came off the bench. Goodhue's scintillating form has seen him preferred to Anton Lienert-Brown, who is on the bench for the test.

And NZME sports writer Gregor Paul said in picking Jack Goodhue and Waisake Naholo to fill the contentious positions of centre and wing, the All Blacks have given the Wallabies a big clue about what will be coming at them on Saturday night.

Jack Goodhue's selfless ability to play others into space has seen him set to start his first ABs test in Sydney tomorrow.
Jack Goodhue's selfless ability to play others into space has seen him set to start his first ABs test in Sydney tomorrow.

Which is high-paced attacking football — the sort the All Blacks hope will be clinical to the point of being ruthless. Being better at seeing and then finishing attacking opportunities is a big theme for the All Blacks in this Rugby Championship.


They weren't so good last year at realising where their opposition were vulnerable in a specific rather than general sense, Paul said.

They knew broadly where to exploit but didn't always do it with the precision or awareness that was required. They didn't always attack with everyone alive to when and where to pass and it's in this regard that Goodhue made himself the All Blacks' preferred choice at centre in Sydney.

Goodhue brings many things to the arena. He can be a brick wall when he needs to be: a tough defender and selfless runner, carrying into the traffic.

But the more relevant skill Goodhue brings is his selfless ability to play others into space, particularly his awareness and execution when there is a two-on-one.

Paul said Goodhue is brilliant at it and the All Blacks want that asset against the Wallabies. They obviously want Goodhue's distribution ability in the midfield where he will be asked to utilise the pace and power of Rieko Ioane and Naholo.

Clearly the All Blacks are going to be moving the ball wide on Saturday and unleash their two wings who can be just about unstoppable if they are given space in which to work. Sam Whitelock will play his 100th test on Saturday while Brodie Retallick and Kieran Read return to the ABs.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: "We're all excited at what is shaping up to be another classic Bledisloe Cup encounter here in Sydney on Saturday night.

"We know that we have to earn the right to perform by preparing well and taking each moment that arises, and that mindset has been reflected in our preparation this week, which has been very good.


"The Bledisloe means a lot to this team and we have the opportunity to show just how much on Saturday night. As far as we're concerned, neither team currently has possession of the Cup and if we want it, we've got to front up and take it,'' Hansen said.

"On behalf of the team, we want to congratulate Sammy on what will be a very special night for him and his family. We're all very proud of him. He's been an outstanding contributor to this team for a long time, both on and off the field. To play one test for the All Blacks is an achievement in itself, but to be good enough to be selected and play 100 tests is a remarkable feat. In doing so, he will join what is a small group of very special All Blacks.

"It's also great to have Brodie and Kieran back after their lengthy absences. They both bring special qualities to the team and we look forward to seeing them produce that again in the black jersey."

The matchday 23 (with test caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (34)
2. Codie Taylor (32)
3. Owen Franks (98)
4. Brodie Retallick (68)
5. Samuel Whitelock (99)
6. Liam Squire (17)
7. Sam Cane (55)
8. Kieran Read - captain (109)
9. Aaron Smith (74)
10. Beauden Barrett (64)
11. Rieko Ioane (16)
12. Ryan Crotty (37)
13. Jack Goodhue (1)
14. Waisake Naholo (19)
15. Ben Smith (67)
16. Nathan Harris (13)
17. Karl Tu'inukuafe (3)
18. Ofa Tuungafasi (17)
19. Scott Barrett (19)
20. Ardie Savea (25)
21. TJ Perenara (45)
22. Damian McKenzie (15)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (24)