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The Rugby Championship
Australia vs New Zealand
Date: Saturday, August 18, 2017
Time: 11:00 BST
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Sonny Bill Williams returns to the New Zealand starting line-up for Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against Australia.
Williams, who was red-carded in the second Test of the British and Irish Lions series, completed his four-game suspension earlier this month and returns to the All Blacks midfield for the ANZ Stadium clash, live on Sky Sports Action from 10.30am.
Damian McKenzie and Liam Squire were the surprise selections in Steve Hansen’s match-day 23, the New Zealand coach making six changes to the team that drew the third Test against the Lions.
The All Blacks will hope to achieve consecutive clean sweeps of their Rugby Championship rivals this year, starting against the Wallabies.
Indeed, the bar was set incredibly high by New Zealand in 2016 as they picked up a maximum 30 from 30 points haul from their six fixtures.
Of course they cannot better that and repeating it would take some doing but there are many who think it could happen, due largely to the standard of opposition in their way. Argentina and Australia have been in poor form while South Africa’s revival is hardly scintillating.
On paper six wins from six is a possibility but this is not a New Zealand team full of confidence, far from it following the recent drawn Test series with the British & Irish Lions. Whether that’s rocked their confidence or we’re in for a backlash will be evident on Saturday.