Bledisloe Cup 2019 Live: In a potential changing of the guard five weeks out from the World Cup, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has introduced Bledisloe Cup 2019 young flyers Sevu Reece and George Bridge to the wing for the winner-takes-all Test. Nepo Laulala claims Franks’ tighthead berth in one of five starting changes from the team humbled 47-26 by the Wallabies in Perth.
England’s Pool is particularly tricky having been drawn in C with Argentina and France. It means one of rugby’s ‘big fish’ will suffer the ignominy of going home early.Approaching their 10th anniversary as the number one team in the World Rugby Rankings, New Zealand’s reign at the top is now under threat from not one rival but three.
The opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday, September 20 as nations from all across the globe compete for the William Webb Ellis Trophy in Japan.
The opening stage of the competition sees 20 teams attempt to battle their way out of four Pools – A, B, C and D. Each Pool contains five teams and only two can advance into the knockout rounds.
On a weekend when they face Australia in the Bledisloe Cup decider at Eden Park in what is Steve Hansen’s 100th test match as head coach of the world champions, Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales, their opponents England and Ireland all have a chance to take on the mantle that they have held since 16 November, 2009.
at the hands of Australia in front of a capacity crowd at Eden Park.
Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala pack down at prop either side of retained hooker Dane Coles while Patrick Tuipulotu joins Sam Whitelock in the second row. The back-row of Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and captain Kieran Read remains intact.
In the backs, Anton Lienert-Brown shifts out one position to outside centre to accommodate the return of Sonny Bill Williams at 12 with the two remaining changes coming on the wings, George Bridge and Sevu Reece replacing Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith respectively. Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga go again at half-back with Beauden Barrett – who scored four tries against Australia at Eden Park last year – deployed at full-back for the third match in a row.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made just the one forced change to his starting side ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup decider.
Adam Coleman comes into the second row for his first test start of 2019 after a hand injury ruled out Rory Arnold. Coleman made his return from injury in last week’s victory at Optus Stadium. The second-row re-shuffle means Rob Simmons has been named among the replacements, alongside potential debutant Liam Wright and the vastly experienced Adam Ashley-Cooper, who is set to play in his first test of the year.The second warm-up match between these two teams ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
In the first match, at Twickenham, an experimental England beat a full-strength Wales 33-19, ending a 14-match unbeaten run for Warren Gatland’s men.
This time, though, the game is in Cardiff. Time for some Welsh revenge?
Having passed up an opportunity to create history by losing to England at Twickenham last Sunday, Wales will become the number one side if they overturn that result in Cardiff on Saturday regardless of what happens a few hours earlier in Auckland.
Similarly, an English victory in the Welsh capital by more than 15 points would see Eddie Jones’ team rise to the top for the first time since June 2004.
As for Ireland, the number-crunching shows that draws in Cardiff and Auckland, or an Australian win, would be enough for them to assume the number one ranking for the first time without even taking to the field.
We take a closer look at all five of this weekend’s RWC 2019 warm-up matches with team news, key stats and how the rankings could be affected.