England's travelling party for the Ashes will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in Australia, according to the country's prime minister Scott Morrison.

The first Test of England's tour of Australia begins on December 8, though it has been reported that a host of players are considering withdrawing from travelling.

This would be due to the strict COVID-19 protocols in place for travellers arriving in Australia, with new arrivals having to undergo a mandatory isolation period in a hotel.

Earlier this year, tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic had to spend up to two weeks in their hotel rooms prior to taking part in the Australian Open.

Australia do plan to ease those restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, but only once 80 per cent of the nation's adult population have received both doses.

Prime minister Morrison says that figure will hit 50 per cent this week, while he discussed the matter with United Kingdom counterpart Boris Johnson in Washington D.C.

However, he insisted England's squad would have no special arrangements made for them.

"I would love to see the Ashes go ahead, as I shared with Boris last night," Morrison said, as reported by BBC Sport.

"But there's no special deals there, because what we're looking to have is vaccinated people being able to travel.

"I don't see a great deal of difference in skilled workers or students who will be able to come to Australia when you reach those vaccination rates.

"Those who are coming for that purpose when it comes to their profession, which is playing cricket, I don't see the difference between that and someone who's coming as a skilled, qualified engineer or someone who's coming to be ready for study."

Cricket Australia is set to provide details around the travel and quarantine arrangements for the tour to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) this week. 

England players will then be able to make decisions on whether they wish to be included in. the squad, which will be announced in early October. 

Prime minister Johnson said: "I raised it and he said he was going to do his best for the families. He merely undertook to come back and see if he could find a solution."

Australia got the better of South Africa for the second week running as Len Ikitau and Marika Koroibete led the Wallabies to a 30-17 victory in the Rugby Championship.

Having triumphed 28-26 over the Springboks on the Gold Coast last week, Australia came out on top again in Saturday's tussle in Brisbane.

The victory takes Australia to within one point of the second-place Springboks on 10 points, who are five behind leaders and reigning champions New Zealand, who face Argentina in the later game.

Quade Cooper was the star for Australia last time out, converting eight kicks, though he missed his first two-pointer here after Ikitau had crossed following Faf de Klerk's early booking for knocking the ball from Nic White's hands.

Handre Pollard pulled the 'Boks to within two points with a long-range penalty, though Australia swiftly struck again, Ikitau once more finding the gap and this time Cooper hit his mark from the conversion.

Pollard hit another two penalties either side of a Cooper three-pointer as, back to their full count, South Africa attempted to turn the screw, yet even with Lachlan Swinton seeing yellow (after initially being given a red card for a high tackle) the visitors could not prise Australia's defence open before the break.

Lukhanyo Am finally managed to do so just after the break to nose South Africa ahead for the first time, but it was a short-lived lead, Cooper winning a penalty and converting it before Koroibete steamed in for his first.

Cooper made no mistake and, five minutes later, Koroibete helped himself to his second to wrap up the result – Jasper Wiese's late yellow adding more frustration for the Springboks.

No place like home

Australia are now undefeated in their past seven men's Tests against South Africa on home soil (W6, D1), although Saturday is the first time they have won by a margin of seven points or more in that span. It is also the first time the Wallabies have earned back-to-back wins in men's international rugby since October 2019.

South Africa's resistance stutters

Heading into the match, South Africa had conceded just 13 points in the final quarters of games in the tournament, fewer than any other team. However, Australia had scored the most points (27) in the last 20 minutes, and they took that tally to 39 with their 12 points scored between the 62nd and 68th minutes, breaking the Springboks' resolve in the process.

South Africa will attempt to spoil Michael Hooper's record-breaking Australia appearance when the Springboks go on a Rugby Championship revenge mission on Saturday.

Hooper will captain the Wallabies for a 60th time at Suncorp Stadium, surpassing the number of times George Gregan led Australia out.

A special occasion for the skipper will come six days after Quade Cooper marked his international return by kicking a dramatic winning penalty against the Boks on the Gold Coast.

Holders South Africa were consigned to a stunning 28-26 defeat in Queensland and trail leaders New Zealand by five points.

Australia are unbeaten in six Tests against the Springboks on home soil ahead of the round-four showdown, after achieving their first win of this year's tournament last weekend.

The All Blacks have maximum points from three matches and can take another stride towards regaining the title by beating Argentina.

Here, Stats Perform uses Opta facts to preview the Rugby Championship double-header in Brisbane.

 


AUSTRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA

Form

South Africa will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats in men's Tests for the first time since November 2018.

Australia have not won back-to-back Tests since October 2019 and may need to show their staying power once again to get their hands on the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate.

Dave Rennie's side have scored 27 points in the final quarter of games in this tournament, more than any other quarter of a match.

Nic White, James Slipper and Taniela Tupou come into the Australia team. Jacques Nienaber makes three changes to South Africa's matchday squad, with Marvin Orie and Trevor Nyakane starting. Cheslin Kolbe is not ready to return from injury.

 

Ones to watch

Andrew Kellaway scored Australia's only try in last week's win over the world champions.

The wing is the joint-leading try-scorer in the tournament with three, alongside David Havili and Malcolm Marx. 

With Lood de Jager absent due to concussion, Orie takes over at lock for South Africa.

De Jager has won a competition-high 22 lineouts, including three steals, so Orie has big shoes to fill.

 

ARGENTINA V NEW ZEALAND

Form

The All Blacks dished out a 39-0 thrashing to Argentina in round three, Luke Jacobson scoring two of their five tries.

New Zealand have kept the Pumas scoreless in each of their past two meetings and have only failed to beat them in two of 32 previous encounters.

Argentina have lost three consecutive Tests, having lost only twice in their 10 prior to that run.

Joe Moody comes into a much-changed All Blacks side and Ardie Savea returns as captain, while Samisoni Taukei'aho makes his first Test start. Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tuungafasi are also among the starters.

Santiago Carreras starts for Argentina at fly-half, while Pablo Matera takes the number eight shirt as Mario Ledesma makes six changes.

 

Ones to watch

The versatile Damian McKenzie gets the chance to start a second Test at fly-half for the All Blacks.

Playmaker McKenzie can put on a show at number 10 and pull the strings in tandem with scrum-half TJ Perenara.

Pumas captain Julian Montoya won three turnovers in the defeat to the All Blacks last weekend and his tally of four is twice as many as any other player in the tournament.

Montoya has not missed any of his 40 tackles in the competition.

Michael Hooper will become the Wallabies' most-capped captain when he leads Australia out against world champions South Africa.

The Wallabies announced their side for Saturday's clash with the Springboks as Hooper prepares to make history in the Rugby Championship showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

Hooper – who debuted in 2012 – will captain Australia for the 60th time in Brisbane, surpassing George Gregan after equalling the record in last week's dramatic victory over South Africa.

"It's an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday evening in Brisbane and it's a testament to him as a person and a player," Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie said on Thursday.

"I've been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day.

"We were really proud of the effort from our men last Sunday and we're well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring to Suncorp Stadium."

Rennie has elevated Nic White and Taniela Tupou to the starting side for the second Test against the Springboks.

White replaces Tate McDermott and Tupou comes in for Allan Alaalatoa, while James Slipper returns to the starting line-up, though James O'Connor remains on the sidelines.

Australia will be looking to claim consecutive Test wins in men's international rugby for the first time since October 2019 after a two-point win over South Africa – that was also the last time the Wallabies won a Test by more than three points.

The Wallabies are undefeated in their last six men's Tests against South Africa on home soil (W5, D1); although, none of their five wins in that span have come by a margin of seven points or more on the day.

 

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, Angus Bell, Tom Robertson, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia

Australia Test captain Tim Paine will undergo neck surgery this week but expects to return in time for The Ashes in December.

A pinched nerve in his neck had caused problems in pre-season with Tasmania and the wicket-keeper has chosen to undertake surgery in Hobart on Tuesday.

The first Ashes Test starts in December in Brisbane, but Paine is estimated to be back to light training by the end of September, resume full training the following month and complete his recovery by the start of November.

"The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the summer," Paine said in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

"I expect to be able to restart physical activity by the end of this month and be back in full training in October.

"I will be ready to go by the first Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer."

Paine, whose finger injuries almost forced him into an early retirement in 2016, averages just 28.61 against England – making just two 50s in 16 innings – but has lifted the urn twice.

The 36-year-old was a part of the side that thrashed England 4-0 in the home 2017-18 series before a 2-2 away draw in 2019 saw his side retain The Ashes.

Australia have only played four Tests in the last 18 months but Paine also gave his backing to cancel November's Test against Afghanistan due to the Taliban's stance that women will not play cricket during their ruling.

Following Cricket Australia stating there was "no alternative" but to cancel the maiden Test, Paine added to SEN Radio last week: "I don't think we want to be associated with countries that are taking opportunities or things off literally half their population."

Quade Cooper made a sensational match-winning return as Australia got up and running in the Rugby Championship with a last-gasp 28-26 victory over South Africa on Sunday. 

Following back-to-back defeats to New Zealand to start the competition, veteran fly-half Cooper was named in the starting line-up for the visit of the world champions – his first international appearance since June 2017. 

The 33-year-old's kicking was exemplary, slotting through a seventh penalty and eighth successful kick of the game from 40 metres with the clock in the red to snatch the win at the death. 

Handre Pollard and Cooper scored two penalties apiece before Siya Kolisi's yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Tom Banks was pounced upon by Australia.

Samu Kerevi's excellent pass released Andrew Kellaway, who cut in off the right wing and dived in behind the posts. 

The Springboks responded well and Bongi Mbonambi powered over from the back of a driving maul after Matt Philip was sent to the sin bin for repeated ruck infringements, but the Wallabies still took an eight-point lead into the break. 

Willie Le Roux was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the 52nd minute and he was joined in the bin by Folau Fainga'a before replacement hooker Malcolm Marx touched down in the middle of another driving maul. 

Marx did likewise in the 72nd minute for his second try to put the Springboks in front, but Damian Willemse made a costly miss when attempting to convert from the tee. 

And after South Africa conceded a penalty at the death for not releasing on the ground, Cooper made them pay with a winning kick. 

Quade a display

He may have made 70 previous appearances for the Wallabies, but Cooper only scored 10 points or more in six of those matches. His 23 points against South Africa was consequently his best display for his country.

Hooper at the heart

Cooper may have taken the headlines, but Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper was formidable in the pack. He made two of his team's three clean breaks and did not miss any of his eight tackles.

Australia are looking for a lift and have turned to Quade Cooper to provide guile from number 10 against South Africa as the Rugby Championship resumes.

Three weeks on from the second round of games, Australia and the Springboks go head to head, and New Zealand tackle Argentina, with both games being played on Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The Wallabies took a Bledisloe Cup drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks, losing all three games in that series, with two of those forming part of this tournament, so they are looking for a spark and will hope Cooper, making his first international appearance in over four years, can provide that.

The 33-year-old last featured, briefly, against Italy in June 2017 and now plays for Japanese team Kintetsu Liners.

His career looked to be in steep decline at one point, as Cooper lost his place in not only the Australia squad during Michael Cheika's reign as coach, but also fell out of favour with the Queensland Reds.

Now he is set for a 71st Test appearance, having been originally beckoned into Dave Rennie's squad as a training player.

South Africa make seven changes to their starting XV for the match, with number eight Duane Vermeulen selected to make his first appearance for the Boks since the 2019 World Cup final after recovering from ankle surgery.

There are changes afoot for New Zealand too, with lock Brodie Retallick named captain for the clash with Argentina as Ardie Savea sits the game out after taking a knock to the head last week.

Ahead of the crunch double-header, the third of six rounds of games in the championship, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta facts.

NEW ZEALAND v ARGENTINA

Form

The All Blacks are inevitably on a high after crushing the Bledisloe Cup aspirations of their trans-Tasman rivals and duly making a strong start to the championship. They have full-back Jordie Barrett available despite his red card against Australia last time out after the punishment was rescinded on appeal in midweek.

New Zealand have won their last seven men's Tests on the bounce by an average margin of 40 points per game. The last time they won more in succession was a nine-game streak from November 2017 to September 2018 which included a 46-24 win over Argentina.

They have not always had it easy against the South American powerhouses, though. Their clashes in last year's Tri-Nations were memorable, with Argentina scoring a stunning 25-15 win over the All Blacks on November 14, 2020, only to then lose 38-0 when they met again a fortnight later. New Zealand have won 29 of their 31 Tests against Argentina (D1, L1).

New Zealand have had just 12 minutes and 53 seconds of possession per game in this year's Rugby Championship, the lowest of any team in the competition. Despite this, they lead the competition in metres gained (615), clean breaks (15), and points scored (48) per game.

Argentina's two defeats to South Africa in the opening two rounds suggest they might find the going tough this weekend.

Ones to watch

Blindside flanker Akira Ioane has crossed the gainline on 17 of his 18 gainline carries for New Zealand in the competition so far. His 94 per cent rate is the highest of any player to have made at least 10 gainline carries in this tournament.

Retallick will carry the responsibility of leadership after he was favoured ahead of Beauden Barrett who, at fly-half, was judged to have enough going on without having to issue orders.

Coach Ian Foster said of Retallick, who has returned to Test action this year after a spell in Japan: "He's back, he's confident, he's got the smile on his face, and that's part of the biggest thing with Brodie. When he's settled and he loves the environment, then he can go out and express himself.

"And I don't want a lot to change with that captaincy band. It's one of the challenges of giving it to someone like Brodie, do you force him into someone that he's not? But I'm really comfortable. He knows his role, he's clear and the boys certainly want to follow him."

Discipline will be important for both sides, with Argentina having received six yellow cards and one red card in their last six men's Tests, including two yellow cards against the Boks last time out. They had received only one yellow card and one red card in their previous 25 Tests.

SOUTH AFRICA v AUSTRALIA

Form

After the tussle between the All Blacks and Pumas, perhaps this can be considered the headline match of the weekend, an embattled Australia facing World Cup winners who are aiming for a statement victory.

For COVID-19 reasons, Queensland is staging the remainder of this tournament, and Australia coach Rennie will look for a response from his players to their sequence of losses.

The three-in-a-row streak is a concern, and the last time the Wallabies lost more in succession was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018. They lost twice to Ireland and twice to New Zealand before ending that losing run with a 23-18 success against South Africa.

Australia have won 19 of their last 24 men's Tests at home against South Africa, logging just three defeats in that span (D2). They are undefeated in their last five such fixtures (W4, D1), yet each of those games has featured a margin of fewer than seven points on the day.

It could be tight again, with South Africa having won 15 of their 18 Tests since the beginning of 2019. They have won their last four on the bounce, and their 83 per cent win rate since the beginning of 2019 is the best of any top-tier team in that time.

South Africa defeated Argentina 29-10 in the second round, while Australia went down 38-21 to New Zealand in Perth.

The Springboks have missed the fewest tackles per game (16) so far in the championship and have the highest tackle success rate (89 per cent) of any team. Australia’s tackle success rate of 82 per cent is the lowest of the four sides, but the context is that they were facing the All Blacks.

South Africa have created 20 mauls throughout this tournament, which is twice as many as any other team and five times as many as Australia (4); the Springboks have gained 56 metres and scored one try from those mauls.

Ones to watch

Australia scrum-half Tate McDermott has beaten nine defenders in this year's Rugby Championship, the second-most of any player (Akira Ioane – 12). He beat seven defenders against the All Blacks in the last round, and only twice in the last decade has any scrum-half from a tier one nation made more (Antoine Dupont 9, Francois Hougaard 8).

He therefore has a pivotal role to play, and how he combines with Cooper will be keenly observed.

Rennie said he was "thrilled" to be able to be giving Cooper another chance to show his quality at this level, and it remains to be seen whether this is a one-off comeback or something that might have longer-term legs.

Michael Hooper will match George Gregan's record of 59 matches as captain of Australia as he wins a 112th cap, and there are other landmarks set to arise. Reece Hodge, who starts on the bench, and Allan Alaalatoa will each win 50th caps.

Rennie described the match as "a huge occasion" for Hooper, hailing his longevity as "testament to his leadership and resilience".

Boks coach Jacques Nienaber said of the occasion: "Australia pose a strong threat with their running rugby and they like to keep the ball in play. They will also be playing in front of a charged-up home crowd, so it will be good to have these experienced players back as they know what it takes to perform in big matches."

South Africa have won their last two Tests on the bounce against Australia, as many as they had won in their eight encounters prior (D2, L4). The last time they won more successive games against the Wallabies was a three-game winning stretch from September 2012 to September 2013.

Quade Cooper will make a remarkable return for the Wallabies after being named to play for the first time since 2017 when Australia face South Africa on Sunday.

Cooper had been part of Australia's squad for the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand, but was not used in any of the three Tests which the All Blacks comfortably won.

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has rolled the dice for the Rugby Championship showdown against South Africa on the Gold Coast, with 33-year-old Cooper named at fly-half, displacing 21-year-old Noah Lolesio.

Cooper's career has taken several turns since his last cap in 2017 against Italy, frozen out at Brad Thorn's Reds in Super Rugby, before a one-year stint at the Rebels and a move to play in Japan in 2019.

"He's had a really positive impact since joining the group, put pressure on us as selectors and he's excited to get out there and perform on Sunday night," Rennie said.

Angus Bell will earn his first start in the front-row, while Izack Rodda also comes into the starting line-up, with the backline unchanged.

Wallabies hooker Feleti Kaitu'u and back-rower Rob Leota are in line for debuts off the bench.

The match will see Australia captain Michael Hooper equal George Gregan's record for most Tests as Wallabies skipper when he steps out for the 59th time.

Meanwhile, Brodie Retallick has been named as captain for New Zealand after a head knock to Ardie Savea ahead of their Test against Argentina on Sunday.

Hooker Asafo Aumua will make his first Test start for the All Blacks, while prop Joe Moody returns following foot surgery via the bench.

"Brodie is a great leader in this team and we don't take his leadership for granted," said All Blacks coach Ian Foster. "We think this is a great honour for him, and he and his family can be hugely proud. 

"He's playing really well and leads from the front. He has come back into the black jersey this year and just picked up where he left off.

"He also has an experienced partner in Beaudy [Barrett] alongside him who is bringing a calmness to the team and a sense of direction and we’re seeing that in the way he plays."

 

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Tate McDermott; Angus Bell, Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Karl Tu'inukuafe, Asafo Aumua, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Luke Jacobson.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Joe Moody, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa'I, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane.

Guus Hiddink, the former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Netherlands head coach, announced his retirement at the age of 74.

Hiddink declared in a television interview that he had decided to quit as boss of Curacao and would not return to football.

The Dutch great told SBS 6: "Lately, with COVID, I haven't worked much. Coincidentally I was talking with the president of the Curacao federation and we came to the conclusion it was better that I stop for a while, because they are going in a new direction.

"But I'm going to stop totally. Am I going to do a Advocaat. No, no."

That was a reference to his fellow veteran coach Dick Advocaat, who was expected to retire after leaving Eredivisie giants Feyenoord last season but instead took on the job of coaching Asian nation Iraq.

Hiddink began his career at PSV and had two spells with the Eindhoven club, from 1987 to 1990 and 2002 to 2006, winning three Eredivisie titles in each successful stint.

His PSV side won the old European Cup in 1988, beating Benfica on penalties in Stuttgart following a goalless draw, clinching a treble after already landing the domestic league and cup titles.

He twice led teams to World Cup semi-finals – the Netherlands in 1998 and South Korea in 2002 – and helped Australia reach the second round of the 2006 tournament.

His Russia team reached the Euro 2008 semi-finals, where they lost 3-0 to Spain, and he had his first short spell as Chelsea interim manager while still in that national team job, helping the Blues win the 2009 FA Cup.

Hiddink was not a success at Madrid, failing to complete the 1998-99 season before he was sacked. He managed one trophy while at the Santiago Bernabeu, helping Madrid beat Vasco da Gama in the Intercontinental Cup.

A long career as a head coach also took in jobs at Valencia, Real Betis, Turkey, Fenerbahce and Anzhi Makhachkala.

Hiddink had a brief and unsuccessful second stint as Netherlands boss, then succeeded Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in December 2015 and helped the team recover from a shocking start to their title defence season, but that was just a half-season tenure.

A year as China Under-21 coach followed, and then the curtailed spell as Curacao boss, his final act, barring a change of heart.

Rhyan Grant scored his first international goal as Australia sealed a 10th consecutive World Cup qualifying win with a 1-0 victory over Vietnam.

The defender nodded home in the 43rd minute after Ajdin Hrustic's searching cross picked him out at the back post.

It maintained the Socceroos' perfect qualifying record on the road to Qatar 2022.

Grant was an unlikely match-winner, opening his account on the occasion of his 14th cap with what proved to be the visitors' only shot on target at an empty My Dinh Stadium.

Despite appearing a little shot-shy on this outing, Graham Arnold's men have scored 32 goals in their winning streak, while Tuesday's clean sheet means they have conceded only twice.

Arnold's men resume their qualifying campaign with games against Oman and Japan next month.

Ian Foster and Dave Rennie backed the law change over red cards in the Rugby Championship after New Zealand completed a Bledisloe Cup sweep over Australia on Sunday.

Jordie Barrett scored the game's opening try in Perth, setting New Zealand on the way to a 38-21 triumph that means they have won all three Tests against their trans-Tasman rivals this year.

However, the full-back did not last long after scoring, dismissed for dangerous play after catching Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete in the face with a boot while catching a high ball.

All Blacks boss Foster felt the decision to send off Barrett was a little harsh, particularly as it could lead to a suspension that has an impact on the rest of the Championship campaign.

"I was pretty surprised to be honest [that he got the red card]," Foster told the media. "We'll go and have a good look at it, but certainly we'll be putting together a case for that one.

"He just lost balance and you could see he tilted and you could see what happened.

"I feel for the refs in situations like this, because technically they saw things and they make their decisions. I get all that. Have we got a technique problem? No."

While Barrett did not feature again, the tournament is experimenting with a ruling where players who have been sent off can be replaced by a substitute after a 20-minute period.

The initiative allowed the All Blacks to be back at full strength early in the second half, by which time they were comfortably in charge of proceedings.

"It's why all the SANZAAR countries were pretty united in wanting to carry on this global trial," Foster said of the trial.

"It's easy to ask me my opinion because we were the ones on the end of it, so we probably benefited by only having a 20-minute red card. I get that.

"But we were keen supporters of that even before the game and today probably justifies that."

Wallabies head coach Rennie felt the red card was the right call, even if Barrett had not been malicious in making contact with Koroibete, but also backed the initiative on trial.

The hosts still trailed 18-0 at half-time and while they did cross three times after the break, New Zealand eased clear to claim a bonus-point victory that puts them top of the table after two rounds.

"I think it's good that we have a 20-minute red card at the moment, because it's certainly not malicious," Rennie said.

"But based on law, when you field a ball, kick your foot out and hit someone in the head, there's going to be repercussions for that. So, I think the decision is probably accurate, and the fact it's only 20 minutes is a good thing."

New Zealand cruised to a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep in 2021 thanks to a 38-21 victory over Australia in Perth, despite the first-half dismissal of Jordie Barrett. 

The All Blacks had lost 47-26 on their previous trip to Optus Stadium in August 2019 but there was to be no repeat result for the Wallabies, who had already lost twice to their trans-Tasman rivals in Auckland last month. 

Beauden Barrett kicked a pair of penalties to make it 6-0 to the visitors before putting his boot to good use in open play too, a clever grubber creating the chance for brother Jordie Barrett to get the opening try of the game. 

However, the full-back's involvement in the contest only lasted a further 12 minutes. Claiming a high ball, he caught Marika Koroibete in the face with an outstretched boot while still in the air, leading to a contentious red card for dangerous contact with the head. 

Despite being down to 14, New Zealand extended their lead before the break to 18-0 when David Havili grabbed the first of his two tries, the other coming just after the hour mark as the second half saw a glut of points. 

Folau Fainga'a gave Australia hope 10 minutes after the interval with a try that Noah Lolesio converted, yet the All Blacks responded impressively, moving the ball across the line for wing Will Jordan to waltz over. 

They also exploited turnovers ruthlessly, both Havili and substitute George Bridge crossing after Australia had lost possession, the latter benefiting from a superb kick into space by TJ Perenara.  

In between, Anton Lienert-Brown went over from Akira Ioane's inside pass near the touchline, New Zealand easing to a bonus-point triumph that sends them top of the Rugby Championship standings after two rounds. 

Substitute Nic White forced his way over for a second Wallabies try, while they had the last say in terms of the scoring with Tom Banks' 79th-minute effort converted by Reece Hodge, but the hosts were already condemned to another heavy loss that leaves them bottom of the table. 


Where there's a Will, there’s a way

Jordan's second-half try means he has now scored in six consecutive Test appearances, the best streak by any player from a Tier 1 nation since the beginning of 2010. His latest effort was put on a plate for him by his team-mates, with the impressive Ioane breaking free of a tackle to create the simple finish after some neat handling had stretched the Australian defence out wide.

Barrett off, All Blacks still march on

Koroibete was certainly at the centre of the early action. He had already seen a try ruled out by the TMO by the time he was hit by Jordie Barrett's boot. However, the Wallabies were unable to capitalise when having an extra man on the field, with the competition's rules allowing a replacement to come on after a 20-minute period.

Ian Foster has challenged Jordie Barrett to bring a "calmness" to New Zealand at full-back when they attempt to complete a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep of Australia on Sunday.

The All Blacks racked up a record score against the Wallabies to win the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th successive year at Eden Park last month, winning 57-22.

Head coach Foster has made five changes to his side for the rearranged clash at Optus Stadium, with expectant fathers Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Richie Mo'unga absent.

Barrett has got the nod over Damian McKenzie, while Brad Weber gets his second start at scrum-half and Ardie Savea has been named captain for the rest of the Rugby Championship, with Sam Cane injured.

Foster said: "We've been pretty happy with Damian at the back in terms of his influence in the first-receiver role and some of his decision-making from behind. Jordie we know is a quality player. We get asked a lot of questions decision-making-wise on attack and defence at 15, and that's probably his biggest work-on.

"We know he's a great individual athlete who can do some pretty special things, it's just about bringing that calmness to the back and making sure we have real clarity. There is a nice little battle going there at full-back."

Samu Kerevi returns at inside centre for Australia, while Izack Rodda will make his return from the bench and Folau Fainga'a makes his first start of the year.

Stats Perform use Opta facts to preview the Rugby Championship showdown in Perth.

 

AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Form

New Zealand showed no mercy as they put Australia to the sword in Auckland last time out.

The Wallabies have fond memories of facing their trans-Tasman rivals at Optus Stadium, having scored their highest points total against the All Blacks two years ago in a 47-26 triumph.

New Zealand have lost only one of their past seven Tests against Australia (W5, D1), that 24-22 loss coming at Suncorp Stadium last November.

Foster's men have scored 50 points or more in four of their five Tests this year. The last time the All Blacks brought up a half-century of points more times in a calendar year was when they did so on five occasions in 2007.

 

Ones to watch

Kerevi has not played for his country since a heavy defeat to England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The centre's international career looked to be over when he moved to Japan but he is back on the Test stage as he replaces Matt Toomua.

Explosive powerhouse Kerevi, who will partner Len Ikitau, will be expected to make a big impact in the midfield battle.

Foster's pre-match words will be ringing in the ears of Jordie Barrett as he prepares to start in the 15 shirt.

Barrett has scored 106 points in 27 Tests, including 15 tries, and is capable of tormenting Australia.

Australia made it nine World Cup qualifying wins in a row on the road to Qatar 2022 with a straightforward 3-0 triumph over China at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. 

The Socceroos finished top of their group in the previous round and made a winning start to the third qualifying stage thanks to goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and substitute Mitchell Duke. 

China had won their previous four qualifiers and managed to restrict their opponents to minimal opportunities in the opening quarter of the contest on neutral territory. 

But Mabil acrobatically volleyed home to give Australia the breakthrough – the goal allowed to stand despite a high boot from the winger – and Boyle fired in a second from the edge of the box less than two minutes later. 

Graham Arnold's side had a penalty shout for handball turned down, but they had a third goal that their dominance deserved with 70 minutes on the clock. 

Duke was on hand to tap home after Mabil was denied from one of his five shots on target – the joint-most of any player in a game in the 2022 Asian World Cup qualifiers – as he scored just 59 seconds after being introduced off the bench. 

That was the fastest any substitute has scored in the Asian qualifiers since Tana Chanabut for Thailand after 36 seconds against the United Arab Emirates in October 2016.

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

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