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By HSBC Waratahs Media Unit
HSBC Waratahs duo Adam Ashley-Cooper and Wycliff Palu will make their return to the Wallabies in Saturday night’s Castrol EDGE Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.
* This is the 170th match of a trans-Tasman rivalry that dates back to 1903 when New Zealand won the inaugural meeting 22-3 in Sydney.
* This tally includes the 24 matches played between 1920 and 1928 when NSW represented Australia. The ARU accorded these matches Test match status but the NZRU does not include them in its statistics.
* Of the 169 games played between the two nations, New Zealand has won 117 and Australia 47, with five draws – the most recent of which occurred in Brisbane 24 years ago, when the two teams finished at 19-19 in the second match of the 1988 series. There have been 60 matches between the teams since the last drawn game.
* Last year’s five-point win by the Qantas Wallabies over the All Blacks was Australia’s first success from four trans-Tasman Tests at Lang Park/Suncorp Stadium. New Zealand had won the previous three games by margins of seven, four and four points respectively.
* There have been 19 previous trans-Tasman Test matches in Queensland, with New Zealand having won 14, Australia three and two drawn.
* Australia’s wins were achieved in 1929 (17-9), 1992 (19-17) and last year (25-20) while the draws were recorded in 1974 (16-16) and 1988 (19-19).
* The Bledisloe Cup was donated by the then Governor General of New Zealand, Lord Bledisloe, for competition between the two countries in 1931.
* Australia won the trophy for the first time in 1934, beating New Zealand 25-11 in Sydney.
* Australia has not held the Bledisloe Cup since it was relinquished in 2003 during a nil-2 series loss to the then John Mitchell and Robbie Deans-coached All Blacks.
* Last year’s 25-20 win over New Zealand in Brisbane was Australia’s 47th Test win against the All Blacks. Three more would make Australia the first country, of the 24 New Zealand have played, to have achieved 50 wins against the All Blacks.
* Just two players – David Campese (8) and Matthew Burke (7) have scored more than the six tries that Adam Ashley-Cooper has posted against the All Blacks.
* Referee Craig Joubert of South Africa, who officiated in Australia’s 25-19 win over Argentina at Rosario two weeks ago, has controlled six previous trans-Tasman encounters since 2008, starting with Australia’s 34-19 win in Sydney in four seasons ago. New Zealand has won the five games Joubert has held the whistle for since then, including both of the All Blacks’ win at Eden Park last year in the Bledisloe Cup Test and then the Rugby World Cup semi-final.
* Overall, the Wallabies have won four and lost six under Joubert. The six defeats were consecutive – five against New Zealand and the 18-35 loss to England in London. Joubert was the referee when Australia beat Wales 20-19 at Sydney in June, and again for the win in Argentina.
* Suncorp Stadium is one of four Test venues that have been used in Brisbane. The others are Ballymore, the Brisbane Exhibition Ground and the Woollongabba Ground, which is better known as the city’s venue for cricket.
* Ballymore, which has traditionally been the home of rugby in Queensland and provides the training base for Super Rugby’s Queensland Reds, last hosted a Test in 2000 when Australia beat Argentina 53-6.
* Australia did lose the first Test of the 2001 British & Irish Lions series in Brisbane, but the 13-29 defeat was sustained at the ‘Gabba.
* Lang Park, as it was formerly known, was the scene of Australia’s record-breaking 76-0 demolition of England in 1998.
* The ground is also the home venue for the Brisbane Bronco’s club in the National Rugby League and the Queensland Roar in football’s A-League competition.
* The site of the ground was originally a cemetery, and then later a rubbish dump before being re-zoned as a sporting precinct. Lang Park became the headquarters for Queensland rugby league in 1957. It was named for the late Reverend John Dunmore Lang who had established the original cemetery on the site in 1840.
* Lang Park hosted its first rugby league match in 1958.
* Its first rugby union international came seven years later in 1965, when Australia beat South Africa 12-8, although it did not become a regular union venue until 31 years later when Tri-Nations matches were held at the ground due to its greater capacity than Ballymore.
* The redevelopment into the venue we see today occurred between 2001 and 2003, being completed in time for the stadium to play a major part in the 2003 Rugby World Cup
Sat Mar 19, 7:40PM AEDT
Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney