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Rugby: Australia unchanged for re-match with New Zealand


Australian Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie announces his team at a press conference for this week's return clash with the All Blacks after ending the world champions' 17-match winning streak last weekend, in Sydney. Photo - AFP

Sydney: Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has given a vote of confidence to the players who earned a 12-12 draw with New Zealand last weekend by naming an unchanged side for Saturday's Rugby Championship return match in Auckland.

McKenzie resisted the temptation to tinker with his side despite the Wallabies not quite hitting their stride in the greasy conditions at a rain-drenched Olympic Stadium last on Saturday.

"We thought about the game and had to look at whether it was an issue of personnel or an issue of composure, cohesion or whatever," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"How we use the guys in the game will be different, I'd say, the weather dictated what happened to some extent.

"(But) we think we've got the right group of guys and they'll be better for the experience so that's why we didn't change anything. We're backing the guys to do the business."

Kurtley Beale, a controversial selection ahead of Bernard Foley at flyhalf for the championship opener, retains the number 10 jersey as the Wallabies go for a first victory over the All Blacks at Eden Park for 28 years.

Nic White also holds on to the starting scrumhalf role from Nick Phipps, who impressed, particularly around the fringes, as a replacement on Saturday.

McKenzie, still searching for his first win over New Zealand in his fifth showdown with the world champions, has also kept faith with the pack that largely held its own.

"We need to do better in some areas but I think we've made progress in that and other parts of the game," he said.

"But I also know that all it takes is one bad day at the office and the headlines come out again. We can't afford to have a bad day at the office."

Mckenzie said that was all the more important because the match will be refereed by a Frenchman, Romain Poite, who heavily penalised Australia at the scrum in the decisive third test against the British and Irish Lions last year.

"There's no doubt that the French referees will favour the team going forward at scrum time, that's sort of the French philosophical approach," he said.

"So you've got to make sure you are not going backwards. You've got to get parity at least, then you've got a platform to play."

Last weekend's draw ended New Zealand's 17-match winning streak but they are unbeaten at Eden Park since 2004 and have won their last 32 tests at the venue.

Squad: 15 - Israel Folau, 14 - Pat McCabe, 13 - Adam Ashley - Cooper, 12 - Matt Toomua, 11 - Rob Horne, 10 - Kurtley Beale, 9 - Nic White, 8 - Wycliff Palu, 7 - Michael Hooper (captain), 6 - Scott Fardy, 5 - Rob Simmons, 4 - Sam Carter, 3 - Sekope Kepu, 2 - Nathan Charles, 1 - James Slipper
Replacements: 16 - James Hanson, 17 - Pek Cowan, 18 - Ben Alexander, 19 - Will Skelton, 20 - Scott Higginbotham, 21 - Nick Phipps, 22 - Bernard Foley, 23 - Tevita Kuridrani.

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