Game-breaking All Black Ardie Savea will miss next week’s Bledisloe Cup match in Melbourne in a reprieve for the Wallabies as they seek to break a 20-year drought.
The veteran loose forward is regularly one of New Zealand’s best, helping his team rebound to thrash Argentina by 50 points in their Rugby Championship match last Saturday in Hamilton.
The trans-Tasman rivals will meet on Thursday week at Marvel Stadium, but Savea will remain in New Zealand to prepare for the birth of his third child,
He is expected to be available for the return match at Eden Park in Auckland on September 24.
While the All Blacks are savouring a return to form, the Wallabies are licking their wounds after crashing to a disappointing 24-8 loss to South Africa in Sydney.
Australia must win both fixtures, which double as part of the Rugby Championship, to regain the Bledisloe Cup which has been in New Zealand’s hands since 2002.
As well as No.8 Savea, blindside flanker Shannon Frizell has been ruled out of the 33-man squad after suffering a rib injury in their win over the Pumas.
Luke Jacobson has taken his place in the squad, seeking to add to his 12 Tests.
Star league convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck won’t be sighted in Melbourne, released to NPC rugby along with lock Josh Dickson and props Aidan Ross and Angus Ta’avao.
Forwards – Codie Taylor, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tuungafasi, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Ethan de Groot, Tyrel Lomax, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Hoskins Sotutu.
Backs – Aaron Smith, Folau Fakatava, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Stephen Perofeta, Richie Mo’unga, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Caleb Clarke, Sevu Reece, Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan.
Former Rebels’ dementia fight
Former England international and Rebels Super Rugby player Michael Lipman has opened up on his battle with dementia in an emotional interview with Australian TV show The Sunday Project.
The 42-year-old grew up in Sydney and played more than 200 matches, representing Bristol and Bath between 2001 and 2009 and made 10 appearances for England.
The ex-flanker says he was forced into retirement after suffering from short-term memory loss and severe headaches following a career where suffered an estimated 30 concussions.
“Every time I got knocked out on the field, all I heard from the doctors and the physios right there as I was lying unconscious, they asked me three questions [when I come to] – ‘what day is it? Who are we playing? What’s the score?’ I remember those questions so vividly, ’cause it happened so often to me,” he told The Sunday Project.
Lipman says he was hit so hard during his England debut against the All Blacks that he remembers “absolutely nothing” about the game.
When he played for the Rebels his concussions became more frequent and the symptoms became more severe.
“I realised something was going on, but I didn’t show it and didn’t say anything,” he said.
Cane able to sway critics
All Blacks captain Sam Cane had his best Test of the year in the 53-3 thrashing of Argentina and even drew a mea culpa from John Kirwan on The Breakdown.
In bad news for Australia ahead of the Bledisloe Cup, Cane was one of several players who seem to have found some late season form.
A week earlier Kirwan had suggested it might be time for Cane to take a break from the team.
On Saturday Cane made 13 tackles from 14 attempts and ran 24 metres on nine carries.
Kirwan said Cane had “totally” answered his critics.
“One of the concerns I have for [Sam] Whitelock and Cane is we’ve got to get them to the World Cup, so he hasn’t had a rest and I thought he had a tired performance the week before. I’m sure he’d have been disappointed in himself,” said Kirwan.
“He was outstanding. He played with energy. He didn’t do anything flash early, really set the tone defensively and that’s what you want from a leader. Often people talk about captaincy and who makes the decisions to kick for the corner or for goal, but it’s about leadership without talking, and he was really solid last night.
“It’s the hardest job in the world … he was not at his best the week before and I thought it was fatigue. But he came out last night and absolutely set the standard for the team on defence and then his support play later on … he got those little lollies in support.”
Kirwan found agreement from Justin Marshall and Mils Muliaina.
”It was a faultless performance,” said Marshall. “He’s always had that game. Everybody else within the mix helped him perform his role to the max. [They] fronted, they offered themselves, cleaned rucks, and it enabled him to play that role he plays so well.
“Ardie [Savea] was off the back of the scrum, and we hadn’t seen [that] in three Test matches. Shannon Frizell was growing into his work again, nice and physical. He was carrying tight, the odd pick and go, which freed up Sam. Somehow the loosies got that balance right.”
Muliaina said: : “If you think about what he went through in South Africa, perhaps when he came back that was a big downer mentally. He’s always had that in his game – he hits hard, he tackles hard.
“When you go into a game where you’re comfortable without the ball and you’ve got other guys who can get over the ball … he goes I’m going to lead from the front, I’m going to smash bodies and I’ll lead like that.”
Rugby – The Roar