The Tri-Nations kicks into second gear this weekend with Australia taking on New Zealand after South Africa were effectively eliminated from the competition last weekend. Here’s the low down…

New Zealand: Mils Muliaina; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear; Daniel Carter, Piri Weepu; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Samuel Whitelock, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams.

Did you know? At an average age of 29 years and 123 days this is the oldest All Black starting XV in Test history. Their previous Test record for oldest starting lineup was 29 years and 10 days when they took on Australia on 28 August 1982.

Australia: Kurtley Beale; James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (capt), James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu. Reserves: Saia Faingaa, Pekahou Cowan, Dan Vickerman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, Anthony Faingaa, Lachie TurnerBy defeating South Africa, New Zealand won their eighth successive TN match, equalling their own competition record from 1996-1997 and 2005-2006. No team has ever managed to win more than eight consecutive Tri Nations matches and the All Blacks can set a record by beating Australia.

New Zealand have scored multiple tries in a competition record nine successive TN matches. They have scored at least one try in their last 34 straight, also a record. This dates back to a 23-18 defeat in Australia on 7 August 2004, the All Blacks’ only tryless outing in 37 Tri Nations matches under Graham HENRY’s tenure as head coach.

In nine of their 15 previous Tri Nations campaigns, New Zealand started off their campaign with two victories. In seven of those nine campaigns (2000 and 2004 being the exceptions), the All Blacks ran off with the trophy at the end of the season.

New Zealand’s Robbie DEANS is the first foreign head coach in Wallabies history. He won his first ever TN match facing his fellow Kiwis, but has proceeded to lose the next eight. He has lost all four TN matches on New Zealand soil since he has been in charge.

Australia have not won a Tri Nations match in New Zealand for nearly 10 years. On 11 August 2001, the Wallabies triumphed 23-15 in Dunedin. Eleven TN defeats in New Zealand have followed that win.

Australia have compiled a Tri Nations record of zero wins and seven defeats at Auckland’s Eden Park, where the Wallabies have been outscored 210-121.

Australia have started their Tri Nations campaign with two victories only once before. In 2008 they kicked off with two wins, yet still failed to win the Tri Nations in that year.

Australia won the last encounter between these teams (26-24) when they toured Hong Kong in October of last year. That victory ended a 10-match winning streak by the All Blacks.

The Wallabies’ starting XV against South Africa a fortnight ago was the third youngest in Tri Nations history. It was also Australia that had put out the youngest two starting lineups (5 September 2009, 21-6 win over South Africa and 19 September 2009, 33-6 defeat against New Zealand).

New Zealand are perfect in 10 TN matches in Auckland (all at Eden Park), defeating Australia seven times and South Africa three times.

The All Blacks have won their last 21 Test matches at Auckland’s Eden Park, following an 18-18 draw with South Africa in August 1994.

That match was preceded by a 23-20 defeat against France in July 1994.

The Wallabies have not triumphed at Eden Park in nearly 25 years. On 6 September 1986, they defeated the home side 22-9.

The closest Australia have come to winning at Eden Park since 1986 was a 6-3 defeat in 1991 in the only tryless Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park. Later that year, Australia defeated New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 1991 Rugby World Cup, which they went on to win.

In the last 52 years New Zealand have played 55 tests at Eden Park for 48 wins and 2 draws with just 5 defeats.

The All Blacks have collected 19 wins from as many attempts at Eden Park in the professional era (1996-2011).

Both teams will play group matches at this venue at the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. The All Blacks will kick off the competition

against Tonga in this stadium on 9 September. Next, they will play France at Eden Park on 24 September. Australia will play Ireland at Eden Park on 17 September.

New Zealand have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, before which it had resided in Australia for five years. In those eight years, the All Blacks won the series six times. Twice, the series played out to a 1-1 draw, which saw the holders, the All Blacks, retain the trophy.

There have been 121 matches involving the Bledisloe Cup, of which New Zealand have won 84 against Australia’s 33. There have been four draws.

The most lopsided match ever in Bledisloe Cup history was a 43-6 New Zealand win in the first ever Tri Nations match.

Last week, Dan CARTER raised his career Test points total to 1,204, setting a new all-time record and snatching the top mark from England’s Jonny WILKINSON (1,195).

CARTER finished on 10 points in a 40-7 rout of South Africa, the 25th time he had reached double figures in a TN match, extending his own all-time record. The next best mark is 19 by Andrew MEHRTENS (NZL).

If Brad THORN plays he will pass Frank BUNCE and become the second oldest All Black ever to represent New Zealand. THORN was born on 3 February 1975 and will be 36 years and 184 days on Saturday. BUNCE was 35 years and 297 days when he played his last Test against England on 6 December 1997.

Brad THORN will not threaten the oldest All Black ever, Ned HUGHES, who played his last Test aged 40 years and 123 days against South Africa on 27 August 1921.

Of all players that have played 10 + TN matches, Cory JANE carries the best won-drawn-lost record of all with nine wins and one defeat.

Ma’a NONU and Conrad SMITH could start a Test together for the 29th time, which would break the New Zealand record currently shared with Walter LITTLE and Frank BUNCE (28). The international record for a starting Centre combination is held by Jeremy

GUSCOTT and Will CARLING who started 44 Test matches together.

New Zealand carry a perfect record of nine wins and zero defeats in matches in which All Black prop Ben FRANKS plays. This includes

six TN matches. FRANKS was born in Melbourne, Australia.

Players on most career TN wins: Mils MULIAINA (31), Richie McCAW (30), Keven MEALAMU (27), Dan CARTER (24).

After last week, Richie McCAW has now won 52 Tests as captain, taking John SMIT’s World record of 51 wins.

McCAW and Mils MULIAINA can play their 24th Test against Australia to equal the All Black record held by Sean FITZPATRICK.

James O’CONNOR has scored at least one try in his last four Tri Nations matches equalling the competition record in that respect, set

by New Zealand’s Christian CULLEN (Jul-Aug 2000).

O’CONNOR scored his sixth career TN try at 21 years and 18 days of age. Only one player in Tri Nations history was younger when

scoring his sixth try in the competition: New Zealand’s Joe ROKOCOKO (20 years and 64 days on 9 August 2003).

Among Australians Joe ROFF (24 years and 320 days on 5 August 2000) had been the youngest player to six career Tri Nation tries

before O’CONNOR took that distinction from him last 23rd July.

O’CONNOR is the leading points scorer in the 2011 Tri Nations on 19 points. No Wallaby has finished as top scorer of the competition

since Matt BURKE in 2001. That year also marks the last time the Wallabies won the Tri Nations.

The leading points scorer in a Tri Nations season has been part of the winning team in 12 of the previous 15 seasons (1998, 2005 and

2010 being the exceptions).

Adam ASHLEY-COOPER needs one more Tri Nations try to equal the Wallaby record of nine in the competition. That mark is shared by Stirling MORTLOCK and Lote TUQIRI.

Nathan SHARPE has been omitted from the Wallaby squad. He was one defeat shy of equalling the record for most Tri Nations matches lost (27) by Australia’s George GREGAN. With SHARPE and GITEAU out, the squad is without players that played in the 2003 RWC final.

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