Wallabies stunned by All Blacks 54-34 in freaky Bledisloe Cup opener

A statement issued by NZ Rugby said the married father of three - who was not in the 23-strong squad named for the test - had returned home to deal with a "personal matter".

It was the second-most points the Wallabies have ever conceded and the third time in five years the All Blacks have piled on 40 points in a Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.

The Wallabies' hopes of regaining the Bledisloe Cup were all but dashed after a shocking first half against the All Blacks before they managed to salvage some pride in a weird 54-34 defeat in Sydney.

It was New Zealand's biggest score over Australia, eclipsing their 51-20 win in Auckland three years ago and puts them well on the way to holding on to the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.

The All Blacks then endured another off-field bombshell, this one on game day, after Kaino flew back to New Zealand after the publication of a story in Sydney's Daily Telegraph that claimed the two-time Rugby World Cup victor had had an extra-marital affair with a Canberra model.

The onslaught continued with the All Blacks' seventh and eighth tries in the opening minutes of the second half as the Wallabies trailed 54-6. They'd also studied last year's opening loss to New Zealand, when they conceded 42 points and missed 38 tackles, and thought they sorted out that issue.

However, things were very different in the final half-hour, Australia restoring a measure of pride with four tries of their own as New Zealand's level dipped.

Both Hansen and skipper Kieran Read were understandably delighted with New Zealand's initial dominance.

The world champions extinguished any chance of an upset with three tries in seven first-half minutes and sliced through the home defence nearly at will in the opening 50 to start their title defence with a bonus-point win.

A double a-piece from Rieko Ioane and Ryan Crotty led the visitors to scoring six times in a whirlwind first half, with a 34 point lead at half time. Ioane laid on a try for the impressive McKenzie after Michael Hooper had lost the ball to Barrett and Ben Smith went over from namesake Aaron's inside pass.

Beauden Barrett, who faced questions about his kicking in the week, converted two of them, and then tagged the extras as Sonny Bill Williams and Crotty dotted down before half-time.

Crotty had his first try in the 25th minute after McKenzie combined with Barrett to leave the line open.

A mix of pace and precision left the crowd at ANZ Stadium silent and a humiliating defeat looked on the cards, but Australia restored some dignity with a second-half fightback - the match finishing 54-34 to the world champions.

By the end of 80 minutes, Australia had missed 48 tackles, which is just not good enough at worldwide level.

  • Steve Townsend