All Blacks braced for Wallabies breakdown

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All Blacks skipper Sam Cane is expecting the Wallabies to try to exploit the absence of superstar loose forward Ardie Savea and dominate the breakdown in Thursday's Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne.

New Zealand have held the prized trans-Tasman trophy for the past 19 years with the Marvel Stadium Test the first of two to decide the 2022 winner, with the second clash in Auckland on September 24.

The All Blacks' most consistent performer, Savea will miss game one as he awaits the birth of his third child in New Zealand.

Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell is also sidelined with a rib injury.

Savea has played 80 minutes in each of their four Rugby Championship Tests and clocked 51 carries for 275 metres - more than double their other forwards apart from hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho.

While Hoskins Sotutu at No.8 and Scott Barrett are quality replacements to work alongside openside flanker Cane, the Wallabies have beefed up their back row to try to get the better of the breakdown.

In their last hit-out against South Africa the Australians were badly beaten in that area which led to a disappointing 24-8 defeat in Sydney, and said they had made it a focus for this clash.

An all Melbourne-born back row sees Rob Leota return as the starting Wallabies blindside flanker, and Rob Valetini at No.8 while coach Dave Rennie is hoping Pete Samu can help win the collisions in his first start of the year at seven.

"They've picked a loose forward trio that are all good strong ball carriers and we're anticipating the game to be quite physical," Cane said.

"The breakdowns are always important but often the result of a breakdown is how well the team is playing on top, in terms of getting over the gain line with carries.

"It's our job to nullify that."

All Blacks coach Ian Foster hoped that lock-turned-flanker Barrett, as well as veteran second row pairing Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, could give his team an edge in the lineout.

"We're confident that we've grown that part of the game and we see it as a key facet of this Test match," Foster said.

"We know they've got an abrasiveness about them in their set piece and we've seen some improvement in their game and that aspect in the last four Test matches.

"It's a big battle and there's a few changes on both sides so it's going to be who has prepared well and who settles the most into their combinations."