test match

Hodge to face All Blacks at first-five as Wallabies ring the changes

With James O'Connor still struggling with a knee injury that ruled him out of last weekend's record 43-5 loss to the All Blacks, 42-test veteran Hodge was named in the side in place of Noah Lolesio, who had a poor game on debut in Sydney.

An injury to lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto also forced a change in the second row with Rob Simmons set to earn his 104th cap alongside Matt Philip in the fourth Bledisloe Cup clash, that doubles as a Tri-Nations match.

The All Blacks have already sealed the Bledisloe Cup series.

Lions to play Japan

The Lions will host the Brave Blossoms in Edinburgh next June ahead of their tour of South Africa.

It will mark just the third time the Lions have played on home soil following games in Cardiff against Argentina in 2005 and a Rest of the World XV in 1986.

"We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully-motivated to win," Lions head coach Warren Gatland said.

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph said it was a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for the players.

The Lions play South Africa in three tests in July-August.

Sonny Bill Williams’ Samoa v Jason Taumalolo’s Tonga set to go ahead in America

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that promoter Paul Langi Kinikini wants to cough up the cash to bring the two mega stars to Utah.

The city has a large Tonga population and if it gets approved by international chiefs would be played in Salt Lake City.

League authorities would be wise to examine the fallout from the Kiwis vs England Test in Denver in 2018, which saw both the New Zealand and English federations out of pocket following Jason Moore’s failed event.

But Kinikini told The Sydney Morning Herald he didn’t have an issue with paying the cash up front.

Australia claim crushing win over Pakistan in first Test

Pakistan were bowled out for 335 in their second innings as Australia wrapped up victory inside four days in Brisbane.

Despite Babar Azam's brilliant century and a 95-run knock from Mohammad Rizwan, Australia were not to be denied – paceman Josh Hazlewood leading the way with figures of 4-63.

Pakistan resumed on 64-3 and faced a heavy defeat after man of the match Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner put Australia in a dominant position at 580, in reply to Pakistan's first-innings 240.

That'll do it!

Taumalolo ready for another sea of red in New Zealand

Taumalolo says it is always overwhelming to see such support and they are looking forward to seeing the same turn out as the last one.

“It’s obviously hard to put in words. I guess the feeling does not become overwhelming until you take the field. So to be there alongside a crowd wearing red all around and singing the national anthem that’s when it really hits,” he said in an interview with NRL.com

Taumalolo said whenever fans sing a hymn or cheer that gives the boys a lift.

All Blacks to play Tonga in Hamilton in 2019

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew revealed details of the additional Test match fixture on the All Blacks' 2019 calendar. The match will be played at FMG Stadium, Waikato, on Saturday 7 September. It will be a hit-out for the Rugby World Cup 2019 squad, and it will be the first All Blacks Test match in Hamilton since 2016.

All Blacks playmaker says the game changes in Europe

All Blacks five-eighth Barrett helped engineer the comeback from 15-0 down against England at Twickenham, withstanding wet conditions and a smothering rush defence from the hosts.

The effervescent playmaker landed a dropped goal and all his shots at goal during the tense 16-15 arm-wrestle win.

It's the sort of contest that could be mirrored in Saturday's clash with world No.2 Ireland in Dublin.

It will require another change of mindset at the tail end of an All Blacks season in which their 11 Tests before arriving at Twickenham averaged nine tries per match.

Time ticking on Tonga vs Australia test

It's been nine months since Mate Ma'a Tonga's memorable run to the World Cup semi finals, which included a famous victory over New Zealand in Hamilton.

The Kingdom's request for a rematch against the Kiwis in October was rejected by New Zealand Rugby League, who also vetoed Tonga's desire to host the Kangaroos in Auckland.

Woolf said despite both sides wanting the match to go ahead roadblocks keep getting in the way.

"Our first option was that we wanted to play against New Zealand but it was very clear early on that that was not going to happen," he said.

All Blacks cruise past France again

The All Blacks had taken control in Auckland last week after Paul Gabrillagues was contentiously sin-binned, but there could have been few complaints about Benjamin Fall's 12th-minute red card for a challenge on Beauden Barrett in this one.

Barrett was unable to continue, yet New Zealand were able to kick on and seal a second comfortable victory without really impressing.

Tonga to name formidable team for Test against Samoa

Fonua-Blake, who played for Tonga in last year’s corresponding Test against Fiji, has decided to again align himself to the Mate Ma’a after representing the Kiwis at the World Cup.

The Manly prop will join a powerful Tongan pack led by Taumalolo and Fifita, which is set to also include the likes of Tevita Pangai jnr, Joe Ofahengaue, Siosiua Taukieaho, Peni Terepo and Manu Ma’u.

Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell, David Fusitu’a Solomone Kata, Mahe Fonua, Daniel Tupou and the Jennings brothers, Michael, Robert and George are in contention for places in the outside backs.