Read “not worried about number one ranking”

By Jamie Wall
All Black captain Kieran Read.

All Black captain Kieran Read has dismissed any talk that losing their decade-long number one ranking is on their minds in the opening Bledisloe Cup match tonight in Perth.

“It’s not even part of our equation, to be honest,” he told media at the All Black captain’s run at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Friday.

“We turn up here to win the game and we will try and do that again tomorrow. We know it won’t be easy, it never is over here.”

A Wallaby win would mean that the All Blacks would drop to number two on the World Rugby rankings, with Wales taking the top spot after their strong showings in the Six Nations earlier this year. However, such an eventuation will be quite difficult to comprehend for any New Zealand rugby fan, given that Wales haven’t beaten the All Blacks since 1953.

Steve Hansen has named what appears to be his first-choice side for the game, with the biggest talking point being the selection of Ardie Savea at blindside flanker. The Hurricanes loose-forward has been in outstanding form this season, and his inclusion very much changes the makeup of the All Black back-row. Until now, Hansen has been committed to playing a lock-type blindside to run the ball at the defensive edge. Savea offers a more busy game throughout the middle of the park.

Kickoff is tonight at 9:45pm NZT.