After the disappointment of a series defeat to the British and Irish Lions a new era for Australian Rugby Union begins on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium. New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie will get a baptism of fire as his first task is to wrestle the Bledisloe Cup away from the All Blacks for the first time in over a decade.
The Wallabies squad is dominated by Brumbies players – ten in total – including Matt Toomua who will make his debut at fly half. He is joined by four others earning their first caps, in stark contrast to the All Blacks who have nearly 900 caps between them. Skipper Richie McCaw makes his first appearance for the Kiwis since taking a break from the game, but their star fly half Dan Carter has been ruled out with a calf injury.
Tickets for this opening match of the Rugby Championship are still available in most areas of the stadium, but we can point you in the direction of a great opportunity to secure tickets in Gold seating areas for 50% off the regular price. You need to sign up to this website, but if you are also a fan of music, theatre and comedy you may find plenty of similar offers that take your fancy.
Saturday 17th August, ANZ Stadium Homebush 20:00
Australia v New Zealand
Out tip – Wallabies to get Bledisloe campaign off to a great start.
In the NRL there is a local derby at WIN Stadium Wollongong on Saturday night as the St George Illawarra Dragons take on the Cronulla Sharks. With the Dragons out of finals contention their motivation here is to put a dent in the finals hopes of their rivals. If they are to succeed the will have to do so without two key men after losing Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan to season ending injuries this week.
The injury news is slightly better for the Sharks as they welcome back Beau Ryan after seven weeks out with a knee injury, while Anthony Tupou also returns. The good news is tempered by the loss of Wade Graham to a shoulder injury. Those who do take the field for the Sharks will have to be in their best form if they are to take home the Monty Porter Cup. The Sharks have not won in Wollongong since 1989.
Saturday 17th August, WIN Stadium Wollongong
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks 19:30