Perhaps the biggest rugby test before these two great nations square off in their World Cup opener on September 21 in Yokohama. The Springboks are looking for a second successive win on New Zealand soil against the All Blacks, while Steve Hansen’s men will be keen to avenge last year’s loss at this very stadium.
Both teams won their respective opening games, with South Africa beating Australia in Johannesburg and New Zealand getting the better of Los Pumas in Argentina.
However both teams have named vastly different XV’s for this clash- Rassie Erasmus even sent his “A” squad early to New Zealand in order to acclimatise while Steve Hansen has chosen to restore his Super Rugby winning Crusaders after the latter were rested for the trip to Argentina.
Current odds after naming of teams: New Zealand 1/4, Draw 40/1, Springboks 11/2
Big talking points: It’s mostly from the All Black side, with Hansen naming Richie Mo’unga at 10 and Beauden Barrett at 15 for this clash. It’s the first time the duo have started together in a test, and neutrals will be very keen to see how the two playmakers operate together. Barrett moving to full back has pushed Ben Smith to 14, with Sevu Reece dropping out of the 23 altogether.
Perhaps wary of the way the Springboks hassled Aaron Smith in the two tests between these nations last year, Hansen has opted to start with the more physical TJ Perenara.
Defeat in this game would be a second hammer blow for the NZ sporting public after that dramatic Cricket World Cup finalloss a few days ago- like the pundits at https://www.thecricketblog.info/, we thought Lockie Ferguson should’ve bowled the super over instead of Trent Boult. Boult was the incumbent then, but Ferguson had better form on the day. Like Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson backed his left armer at Lord’s, Hansen has chosen to stay loyal to Sonny Bill Williams, who gets another chance in midfield. He partners Jack Goodhue in the centres, with Anton-Lienert Brown in the reserves.
The other major talking point is in the loosies- Shannon Frizell gets his chance at blindside, with Matt Todd at openside and Kieran Read packing down at 8. With Dalton Papalli named as loose forward reserve, there is no spot in the 23 for the duo of Sam Cane and Ardie Savea. Savea was pivotal in helping New Zealand win in South Africa last year, and has been the form forward in Super Rugby. Perhaps an area where the Boks hold an edge over the All Blacks, with their combo of Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen, and veteran Francois Louw off the bench.
The Springbok squad is pretty much on expected lines after seeing the folks Rassie sent ahead to New Zealand. Herschel Jantjies’ stunning debut performance against the Wallabies sees him leapfrog Cobus Reinch on the bench. Bok fans will also be hoping that Handre Pollard doesn’t get himself injured early in the game- there’s only Frans Steyn, usually a centre by trade, available as flyhalf reserve.