All you need to know ahead of the All Blacks clash against the Wallabies in Perth.
All Blacks v Wallabies, Saturday August 10, 9.45pm kickoff (NZT)
The final round of a shortened Rugby Championship, this weekend's clash doubles as the first leg of the Bledisloe Cup tilt. The sides will meet at Optus Stadium in Perth, before the reverse leg in Auckland next weekend.
Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (c), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.
Codie Taylor, Atunaisa Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, George Bridge.
Wallabies: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Silatolu Latu, Scott Sio. Reserves: Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Luke Jones, Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Thomas Banks.
The Cane and Savea show
Sam Cane and Ardie Savea will draw the start in the loose forwards, alongside captain and No 8 Kieran Read.
The pair will be expected to provide valuable momentum with the ball and a wall-like defensive screen against a Wallabies side determined to win back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
It will be the first time the Savea/Cane combination has started a test since August last year when the pair ran on against Argentina in Buenos Aires and impressed hugely in the absence of the injured Read and Luke Whitelock.
It's an indication of the selectors' World Cup thinking and a pragmatic decision; they simply can't be without the explosiveness that Savea in particular provides.
Five things to watch
1. First look at Ardie Savea/Sam Cane combination
The pair virtually selected themselves alongside skipper Kieran Read due to their form and absence of a genuine quality blindside flanker alternative. Savea, in particular, just couldn't be left out. The All Blacks missed him against the Boks and here he will be given free rein to create his own unique brand of havoc around the ruck. It's a genuinely exciting prospect, with, as Steve Hansen said this week, few downsides. It's also probably a sign of things to come.
2. Improvements in Richie Mo'unga/Beauden Barrett double act
Considered a bit of a risk by some, the so-called gamble was considered a qualified success in Wellington, with first-five Mo'unga improving throughout at the Cake Tin and fullback Barrett considered by Hansen to be the best player on the pitch. No arguments here, but Barrett said this week he and Mo'unga occasionally found themselves in each other's pockets as first receiver so the plan in Perth will be to be better aligned to give starting halfback Aaron Smith genuine options and the Wallabies defenders genuine problems.
3. Black Ferns v Wallaroos
The Black Ferns v Wallaroos match which kicks off before the Bledisloe Cup test at Optus Stadium is considered part of a double header rather than a curtain-raiser. Last year, a crowd of more than 28,000 watched the New Zealand v Australia women's team play in Sydney, another win for the world champion Kiwis, who have never lost to the Aussies. This time the Wallaroos really do fancy their chances of a first win after 17 straight losses. "This is the best preparation we've ever had," Aussie captain Grace Hamilton said.
4. James O'Connor's return
The Wallabies "bad boy" and best friend of the tabloids is back in a starting role after six years out in the cold. Just to add to the intrigue a little more, coach Michael Cheika has selected O'Connor to start at centre, a relatively unfamiliar position for a player who has now travelled across the entire Aussie backline with the exception of halfback. Cheika's intention is to add creativity to what has been a predictable attack. With O'Connor at centre, Christian Leallifano at first-five and Kurtley Beale at fullback, the Wallabies certainly have the potential for that.
5. Rieko Ioane's bounce back
The All Blacks left wing wasn't quite on his game against the Boks. The timing was off, the rust of a lack of recent game time perhaps getting in the way of a performance Ioane will be craving after a bit of a form drop-off during the latter part of the Blues' season. There is no doubting Ioane's quality and ability to change a game with a piece of brilliance, though. When the bounce-back does come it is likely to be spectacular.
Sir Brian Lochore to be honoured
The All Blacks will acknowledge Lochore, a former All Blacks legend whose life was celebrated at a funeral in Masterton this week, by wearing his playing number – 637 – on their jerseys at Optus Stadium.
There will also be a moment of silence before the match to honour the All Black legend.
How to watch
The Herald will be live blogging the match from 9.00pm and Radio Sport will have live commentary. Sky coverage starts at 9.00pm on Sky Sport 1, with the Black Ferns match against the Wallaroos being broadcast from 6.30pm.
All Blacks: $1.18
The two sides have played 164 matches against each other with the All Blacks winning 114, the Wallabies winning 43 and the sides drawing seven times.
Last match: All Blacks won 37-20, Yokohama (October 27, 2018)
Largest All Blacks winning margin: 43-6, Wellington (July 6, 1996)