All Blacks set to ring the changes for second Bledisloe clash

All Blacks set to ring the changes for second Bledisloe clash

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has confirmed that he is set to make changes to his matchday squad for Saturday's second Test with Australia in Dunedin.

Saturday's 38-7 victory over the Wallabies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) meant that the All Blacks have retained the Rugby Championship title and the Bledisloe Cup for the 21st successive year.

Although the "dead rubber" term is not something which the All Blacks always like, Foster said in their current situation - with the World Cup looming on the horizon - they don't mind it.

"We love the word dead rubber from one perspective because that means we've done the job in the first Test, but it doesn't change the fact it's still a Test match," he said. "It's a vital cog on our little steps towards the World Cup.

"It's another chance for us to have a look at a few options, both in the way we play and personnel. It's fair to say you'll see a couple of changes."

It's the last chance for some players to stake their claims for World Cup selection ahead of next week's squad's announcement for the global showpiece in France.

Utility back Leicester Fainga'anuku and front-row Fletcher Newell are in the selection mix for the Dunedin Test after recovering from respective calf and foot injuries but there is still uncertainty over captain Sam Cane, who was left out of the clash with the Wallabies at the MCG after sustaining a neck injury against South Africa in Auckland on July 15.

"Quite frankly we won't be taking any risks there," said. Foster. "If we don't think it's right then he won't be playing. He's progressed well during the week."

Rookie wing Emoni Narawa, who made a try-scoring Test debut against Argentina on July 8 is also set to miss the second Bledisloe Cup Test as he is struggling with a back injury.

Foster expressed his delight with how his players adapted during the MCG Test after the Wallabies upped the ante in the physicality stakes.

"When we took our opportunities it was always at the right time and it got us across the line," he said.

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said the All Blacks hadn't been put under pressure in their first two Rugby Championship Tests but Foster said there were times against both Argentina and South Africa that it did happen.

"This one was different (against Australia), the scoreboard was even after 20 minutes and I think that is the pressure he might have been referring to," said Foster.

"We like to get up early but it doesn't always happen and again, the composure to come back, particularly the bench and they way they upped the tempo of our game in that last 15-20 minutes was pretty impressive."

Although they beat the Wallabies by a big margin, Foster said the scoreline had flattered them. He feels although they deserved to win, Australia had done enough to take some good points from their performance.

"They'll regret they couldn't get more prolonged periods of pressure on us¦ Defensively we stood tall. And we made some better decisions with the height of our tackles. We had to stay strong," he added. "It would have been easy to concede a try or two in that period and things might have changed."

However, New Zealand are now fully focused on the Dunedin Test which gives them another another chance to work on the side's development.

"We are about growing our game, taking big strong steps forward and treasuring each week," said Foster. "So, how we balance that with change is going to be key.

"But the clear message is we don't want to compromise on performance. We'll reassess, and the Aussies will come in with their purpose and perspective.

"We want to finish in this part of the world in a very strong space."