All Blacks

All Blacks thrash Australia 54-34

Michael Cheika's side may have been clear underdogs at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, but few could have anticipated just how dominant their opponents would be in an embarrassingly one-sided opening 50 minutes, before Australia rallied with the match well beyond them.

Playing with a devastating mix of pace and precision, the All Blacks crossed six times before the interval to end the game as a contest - Rieko Ioane and Ryan Crotty each claiming braces as Damian McKenzie justified his selection at full-back with a series of dazzling breaks.

Kaino heads home to deal with family matter

His return to New Zealand followed the publication of a story in The Daily Telegraph this morning which alleged the married All Black had a relationship with a former Australian model.

NZR said it could not comment on the Kaino allegations or further details about Aaron Smith's personal life which were published today as both were "personal matters".

But NZR said it felt for all of those affected.

Chief Executive Steve Tew said the NZR understood that the game and players were under public scrutiny and these latest stories in the media were concerning.

Hooper hangs on to Bledisloe dream

Three of the Wallabies matchday 23 - Ned Hanigan, Sean McMahon and Curtis Rona - have never played against the All Blacks and close to half the team was not a part of last year’s Sydney debacle.

Though Hooper maintained their focus was incredibly narrow heading into the Test, when asked if he let his thoughts wander to the idea of winning the trophy, he was honest.

“This group's come together this year to do something and what's wrong with a dream? What's wrong with a goal that everyone here wants to achieve?," he said.

All Blacks team named for Investec Rugby Championship opener

The matchday 23 features the starting front row of 94-Test veteran Owen Franks, fellow prop Joe Moody and hooker Codie Taylor, with Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett and Ofa Tu'ungafasi the front row cover. The experienced locking combination of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will pair up for their 44th start together, with Luke Romano providing impact off the bench.

Aaron Smith may have misled All Blacks bosses in sex scandal

If genuine, the messages show Smith convincing the woman to lie in a legal document, misleading his coach and attempting to deceive his partner.

The All Blacks star allegedly had sex with the woman in a disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport in September 2016.

He claimed it was a one-off incident and apologised for his "huge error in judgement".

But the woman told the Daily Mail Australia that she was involved in an affair with Smith for two years.

Timani likely to start at No 8

Timani has been a favourite of Cheika's since his starting debut last year against Argentina at Twickenham. 

A lack of fitness prevented Timani from playing in the Fiji and Scotland tests but he was recalled for the Italy match in Brisbane. 

The Wallabies will need his size and strength in what is set to be a mouth-watering back-row battle.  

 This is my second start," Lopeti said. "Against those guys, they're a good team. When I was starting last year in Auckland I was a bit nervous, but when I got into the game I was excited and pumped to play against them. 

All Blacks won't be caught out again

The British and Irish Lions used a rush defence to great effect in their drawn series against the All Blacks but first five eight Beauden Barrett said they will ready to counter if the Wallabies adopt the same tactic in Saturday's opening Rugby Championship test in Sydney on Saturday.

The All Blacks, romped through last year's tournament with an average of six tries per match on the back of a fast-paced, high-skilled game with Barrett pulling the strings.


Ben Smith: Bledisloe 'massive'

The fact Ben Smith still wants to play test rugby when his sabbatical expires might have had something to do with his reluctance to comment on Steve Hansen's acting career.

All Blacks coach Hansen is set to star in an advertisement for biscuits, where he appears dressed in leathers and riding a two-wheeled machine, evoking some mirth among his players.

Coles out of Bledisloe opener after head knock

The Hurricanes rake has battled concussion issues for much of the season and had another setback in New Zealand's warm-up game against two counties.

Coles played six Super Rugby games this season and missed the entire June Series, before returning for the Hurricanes' quarter-final against the Brumbies.

His club back-up, Ricky Riccitelli, will join the squad this week as Coles's replacement.

Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor started as hooker for the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions in June and would seem the most likely option for Saturday's Test.

All Blacks put on show in warm-up

It was a case of men against boys in Pukekohe, as the world champions prepared for next weekend's Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener against Australia with a 57-7 first-up demolition of Taranaki and then a 49-0 win over the Steelers.

Earlier, Counties defeated Taranaki 28-7.

Handed a licence to attack and entertain, Steve Hansen's troops threw the ball around willingly and ran at every opportunity.