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Connolly makes three changes to starting lineup

allblacks.com     16 Aug 2006    

The Wallabies need a victory to stay in the race for the Philips Tri Nations trophy, after already surrendering the Bledisloe Cup to the All Blacks with a narrow 13-9 defeat in Game 2 in Brisbane last month.

Connolly has opted to bring reserves Phil Waugh and Clyde Rathbone into the starting fifteen for the first time this season, while Jeremy Paul has earned a re-call to the starting team at hooker.

Both Waugh and Rathbone have played every match from the reserves bench during the Wallabies’ 2006 campaign, while Paul will make his third start in the hooking role this Saturday.

Injury to regular back-up scrumhalf Sam Cordingley has paved the way for Waratahs halfback Brett Sheehan to make his first appearance in the Wallaby Match 22.

Sheehan has overcome an eye injury suffered at training last week and is in line to become the seventh rookie used by Connolly during the 2006 series.

“There were some very tough selection decisions, particularly in the back row, but we feel that Phil Waugh deserves his opportunity in the starting team,” said Connolly.

“George Smith has been very good for us throughout the season and is one of the world’s best in his position, but we are very keen to see what Phil can bring to the mix,” he said.

“The wing was also very contentious and there has been nothing between the outside backs throughout the season.”

Connolly believed his team was ready to challenge the All Blacks on foreign soil.

“We were very close (to a win in Brisbane) but you need to take all of your opportunities against New Zealand. They give you very little,” he said.

“We’ve had a good preparation in Canberra but the fact remains that the All Blacks have won their last twenty Tests at home.

It’s going to be a massive challenge for us and one which the players are looking forward to.”

The Wallabies will depart for Auckland tomorrow (Wednesday), with Saturday’s match kicking off at 3.30pm Australian Eastern Time.

Notes

· New Zealand has retained the Bledisloe Cup for 2006 after winning Games 1 & 2 over the Wallabies last month (32-12 in Christchurch on 8 July & 13-9 in Brisbane on 29 July).

· The Wallabies have not defeated the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1986. The All Blacks have won all seven matches at the venue since that year, including a 34-24 victory last year.

· The All Blacks currently hold a four-match winning streak over the Wallabies. The Wallabies last win over New Zealand was in 2004 (23-18 at Telstra Stadium)