Sonny Bill Williams is raring to go as he prepares to make his New Zealand return against Australia in Saturday's Rugby Championship opener.
The exciting centre's last international outing ended early as he was sent off for a shoulder charge to the head of Anthony Watson in the first half of the All Blacks' second-Test defeat to the British and Irish Lions in July.
That dismissal meant he missed the series-ending draw through suspension, and Williams is desperate to make up for lost time when the world champions face the Wallabies in their Bledisloe Cup meeting in Sydney.
"You've been out for a while, you get back into the fold and sometimes you're a little bit too eager," he said in a media conference. "You have to try to keep a lid on things but hopefully I'll explode on Saturday."
It has been a testing week for the visitors, after their governing body announced it would investigate claims Aaron Smith misled a disciplinary case last year, while the security guard at the heart of the "bug-gate" scandal - where it was alleged a listening device was found at the All Blacks' hotel prior to facing Australia in Sydney 12 months ago - was cleared of a charge of public mischief at a magistrate's court.
As for the Wallabies, who have lost each of their last five meetings with their neighbours, NRL convert Curtis Rona makes his debut on the wing and Kurtley Beale returns to the centre for his first appearance since the 2015 World Cup final.
New Zealand triumphed on that occasion to successfully defend the Webb Ellis Trophy, and Steve Hansen's side - who feature Damian McKenzie as a surprise starter at full-back - are favourites to retain their Rugby Championship title.
HEAD TO HEAD
Kurtley Beale (Australia)
Having spent the 2016-17 with Wasps in the Premiership, Beale has earned a Wallabies recall and will be expected to be at the forefront of the hosts' attacking play, along with full-back Israel Folau.
"You grow that extra leg when you know you have him beside you," Folau said of Beale. "He brings a lot more confidence to your game and it's exciting. Guys like KB, they don't come around too often. You want to try and make the most of playing alongside him and he's a special player."
Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand)
The midfield battle between Beale and Samu Kerevi, and Williams and Ryan Crotty could prove pivotal in deciding the outcome of Saturday's clash.
Williams is positively bursting to get at the Wallabies, but it was that over zealous approach that cut short his participation in the Lions series. The All Blacks will need the centre to retain his discipline if they are to prosper at ANZ Stadium.
Australia: Israel Folau, Henry Speight, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper, Sean McMahon.
New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Kieran Read.
Kurtley Beale (Australia): You're stupid if you're not looking for Izzy [Folau]. He's been incredible in the June series. He's been on fire, so for me I don't look to overdo it. We've got a good understanding of what we want from each other and we don't think about it too much, that's the best thing about it. It makes the job a lot easier when you're out there on the field."
Brodie Retallick (New Zealand): "Obviously I've been lucky enough to play with Damian [McKenzie] for a couple of seasons at the Chiefs and see what he can do. I'm normally cleaning out the rucks and he's carrying and sometimes I don't know why he's running there but he seems to pop out the other side so he's more than capable of playing Test footy. I know it sort of blind-sided him when he got named to start so he might be a little bit nervous but he's definitely got the capability to go out there and perform."
- New Zealand posted a 42-8 win against Australia when they last met at ANZ Stadium, the biggest win in the history of the fixture at that venue (16 games).
- The Wallabies have scored no more than a penalty goal in the opening half of each of their last three games at ANZ Stadium, trailing at half-time in each match, though they’ve gone on to earn a win and a draw in that period (L1).
- The All Blacks have lost only one of their last seven games within Australia (W4, D2), and will be looking to win consecutive fixtures on Australian soil for the first time since winning four on the trot from 2008 to 2010.
- New Zealand haven’t lost a scrum on their own feed in any of their last four Tests (34/34), and have lost just three of 76 scrums overall in their last 11 Tests.
|Gonzalez spins another gem for Nationals|
|Sutton re-signs with Rabbitohs for 2018|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Nine-man Barcelona reach semis, Gremio also advance|
|Red Sox ace Sale reaches 300-strikeout milestone|
|Neville: Rashford as good as Mbappe and Dembele|
|MLS Review: Montreal win derby, Atlanta put four past Galaxy|
|Rahm proud of consistency in 2017|
|Madrid can overturn deficit as captain Ramos remains calm|
|Neymar wouldn´t have treated Messi like he did Cavani – Forlan|
|Twins´ Dozier calls for mandatory protective netting after young fan hit by foul ball|
|Bengals boss Lewis warns players about their job security|
|76ers set no limits on Simmons|
|Zidane not worried after Madrid lose ground on Barca|
|Casemiro calls for Madrid calm after shock Betis loss|
|Sane sends message to Guardiola as Manchester City shake off West Brom|
|Keep calm and carry on – Allegri backs Higuain to rediscover scoring touch|
|Bosz proud of table-topping Dortmund after Hamburg triumph|
|Marlins slugger Stanton crushes 56th home run|
|Montella points to schedule after uninspired Milan win|
|Conte confirms Luiz will be fit to face Atletico|
|Manchester City boss Guardiola hopeful Gundogan injury not serious|
|Real Madrid 0 Real Betis 1: Ronaldo´s return ruined as Sanabria stuns LaLiga champions|
|Wilshere is ready for the league - Wenger|
|Simeone lauds ´different class´ Griezmann|
|Mourinho praises United´s professionalism in EFL Cup win|
|Spurs to host West Ham in EFL Cup fourth round|
|Froome: Time to put my feet up|
|West Brom 1 Manchester City 2: Sane at the double amid fresh Gundogan fears|
|Manchester United 4 Burton Albion 1: Mourinho´s men begin EFL Cup defence in style|
|Arsenal 1 Doncaster Rovers 0: Walcott hits winner for Wenger´s men|
|AC Milan 2 SPAL 0: Penalty double seals comfortable win for Montella´s side|
|Chelsea 5 Nottingham Forest 1: Hazard on form as Batshuayi claims hat-trick|
|Juventus 1 Fiorentina 0: Mandzukic on target as Bianconeri maintain winning start|
|Returning Gundogan limps out of impressive Manchester City return|
|Hamburg 0 Borussia Dortmund 3: Bosz´s men cruise back to Bundesliga summit|
|Broady stuns Mannarino in St Petersburg|
|Athletic Bilbao 1 Atletico Madrid 2: Correa and Carrasco strike in second-half surge|
|Simon suffers surprise Moselle Open exit as home hopes struggle in Metz|
|South Africa announce India schedule and planned four-day Zimbabwe Test|
|I have nothing to prove - Paulinho|
|Prodl pens new four-year Watford contract|
|Monaco renew Subasic, Raggi deals|
|Stoneman is ready for Ashes test - Cook|
|Sampson sacked as England Women´s boss|
|Manchester United to act against ´offensive behaviour´ after Lukaku race row|
|Atletico Madrid´s Wanda Metropolitano to host 2019 Champions League final|
|Flying Dutchman Dumoulin crowned world champion|
|Wickmayer topples Peng in Guangzhou, Hogenkamp makes Seoul progress|
|Solomona focused on Sale rather than England return|
|‘Raging Bull’ Jake LaMotta dies aged 95|
|Chelsea confident of recruitment compliance amid FIFA investigation|
|Brighton seal permanent signing of Newcastle keeper Krul|
|Louw, Nkosi and Schreuder get Springboks call|
|Perez donates 3m pesos to Mexico earthquake fund|
|Injured Mathews out of opening Pakistan Test|
|Double leg break victim Rossi to attempt incredible Aragon GP return|
|Barcelona condemn Spanish crackdown on Catalonia independence vote|
|Muguruza marches past Puig, Pliskova and Kerber progress in Tokyo|
|Benzema seals Real Madrid stay until 2021|
|Smith defends captaincy ahead of landmark ODI|
|Perisic promised Inter can match Manchester United|
|The race is on - Aubameyang lays down Lewandowski challenge|
|Cristiano Ronaldo´s Real Madrid return confirmed|
|Bellew tells Haye ´I oblige you´|
|Mbappe can prove he´s ready for Madrid at PSG - Morientes|
|Five-year ban for Pakistan batsman Latif|
|PSG ´destroyed the market´ with Neymar and Mbappe - Elber|
|Bulldogs chairman says sacked Hasler will not be compensated|
|Coutinho withdrawal inspired Leicester to victory, claims Shakespeare|
|Windies opener Brathwaite cleared to bowl|