Mo'unga retains All Blacks flyhalf spot for Wallabies duel

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Richie Mo'unga in action during the Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on 31 October 2020.
Richie Mo'unga in action during the Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on 31 October 2020.
Matt King/Getty Images

Richie Mo'unga has again been preferred over Beauden Barrett at flyhalf in the All Blacks side named to play Australia in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on Saturday.

Coach Ian Foster also opted for Rieko Ioane on the wing, despite the Blues flyer preferring outside centre and with Will Jordan not included in the match-day 23.

Despite Jordan's impressive nine tries from five Tests, Foster said on Thursday they were taking a "considered approach" to his return from a slight hamstring twinge.

The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy, since 2003 but Foster said they were taking nothing for granted.

"There is such a huge history with the Bledisloe Cup, the rivalry between the All Blacks and Australia goes back a long, long way, and it's always a massive contest. The Cup isn't ours, we have to go out and win it again," he said.

The Test, the first of two back-to-back Bledisloe clashes at Auckland's Eden Park, will be a special night for scrumhalf Aaron Smith, who will play his 100th Test.

The starting front row is unchanged from the last Test against Fiji, with loosehead prop George Bower, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Nepo Laulala.

Brodie Retallick is back at starting lock alongside captain Sam Whitelock while Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii and Ardie Savea make up the loose forwards.

Outside Smith and Mo'unga in the backs, David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown form the midfield combination with Rieko Ioane and Sevu Reece on the wings and Damian McKenzie at fullback.

The All Blacks have played the Wallabies in 171 Tests and won 117, lost 45 and drawn eight.

The last Test between the two sides was a narrow 24-22 win to Australia in Brisbane last year.

Teams:

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akiro Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower

Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Jordie Barrett

Australia

15 Tom Banks, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Andrew Kellaway, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Matt To'omua, 23 Reece Hodge

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