Rugby Union

Australia plan to single out All Black debutant Fekitoa

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Australia plan to test out New Zealand's rookie centre Malakai Fekitoa, who is likely to replace an absent Conrad Smith in Saturday's Rugby Championship opener. New Zealand are all but resigned to being without 77-test veteran Conrad Smith for the first Bledisloe Cup match of the season at the former Olympic stadium in Sydney. Smith returned home to Wellington on Friday to be with his expectant wife - with the baby now expected two weeks before it was originally due - and 22-year-old Malakai Fekitoa, who has played just one test, was named as his replacement. Hard-tackling Fekitoa made his starting debut against England in June and All Blacks captain Richie McGaw believes he can fill the void at outside centre if Smith fails to return. Wallabies captain Michael Hooper respects Fekitoa after his "cracking year with the Highlanders" but said the hosts will target the test novice.

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