sport

McKenzie keeps the faith

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has named an unchanged side for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand in Auckland.

The Wallabies drew 12-12 with the All Blacks - ending New Zealand's 17-match winning run - at a rain-soaked Olympic Stadium last Saturday and McKenzie has resisted the temptation to tinker with his side.

Australia's task is huge - they have not won at Auckland's Eden Park for 28 years. And New Zealand have won 32 straight games against all opposition at their spiritual home dating back to 1994.

Kurtley Beale retains the fly-half position with Bernard Foley again left on the bench, while Nic White holds on to the starting scrum-half role from Nick Phipps, who impressed as a replacement last Saturday.

McKenzie said: "We were impressed with the pressure we were able to apply in the opening Test and, despite some errors, were pleased with the intent of the group to continue attacking despite the poor weather conditions.

"I imagine both teams are excited by the prospect of a dry evening in Auckland on Saturday night, which will have an influence on the way the game is played.

"For us, we know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack."

Beale kicked all of Australia's points in the first Test and McKenzie is backing the mercurial match-winner to continue sparking the Wallabies' attack.

"Selection is never easy, although we've made a lot of tough decisions in this space over the past 12 months with the ultimate goal of winning games," he said.

"You're always looking to improve and I'm confident the sum of those hard choices has put us in a better position today.

"While we didn't quite get there on Saturday night, I do know that we've made good progress since our first Test against New Zealand a year ago.

"That gives us some confidence heading into what will be an extremely tough challenge in Auckland on Saturday night."

McKenzie believes that last weekend's draw is proof that the gap between the two teams is closing.

"Recent results would suggest Eden Park hasn't been a happy place for Australia and already this week we've seen that not many people are giving us a chance in Auckland," he said.

"Sporting records are there to be broken and we'll look forward to the opportunity of playing the All Blacks in their own backyard on Saturday night."

Team: 15-I Folau, 14-P McCabe, 13-A Ashley-Cooper, 12-M Toomua, 11-R Horne, 10-K Beale, 9-N White, 1-J Slipper, 2-N Charles, 3-S Kepu, 4-S Carter, 5-R Simmons, 6-S Fardy, 7-M Hooper, 8-W Palu,

Replacements: 16-J Hanson, 17-P Cowan, 18-B Alexander, 19-W Skelton, 20-S Higginbotham, 21-N Phipps, 22-B Foley, 23-T Kuridrani

Watch New Zealand take on Australia live on Sky Sports 4 on Saturday, with coverage from 8am.