New Zealand v South Africa - Teams and Prediction
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND FIVE: Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said his team will be out to right the wrongs in their 100th Test against arch-rivals New Zealand this weekend.
The Boks are coming off disappointing back-to-back defeats to Australia, while the All Blacks are unbeaten in this year’s tournament with four wins from four matches.
The All Blacks are sitting pretty at the top of the standings with 20 points, while Jacques Nienaber’s side are 10 points behind with two rounds to go.
The Boks have received a lot of criticism for their performances over the last two weeks and many pundits are giving them very little chance of knocking the All Blacks over on Saturday.
When asked if this was his most difficult time as captain during an online press conference on Friday, Kolisi responded: “It hasn’t been the most difficult time.
“I think we are just disappointed losing two games in a row, but I think we faced tougher challenges and we try to look at each week as it comes.
“We obviously don’t want to lose two games in a row, but our main focus has been looking at what we have done wrong in the games and how we can improve that.
“I think in the last two games we kind of messed it up ourselves. The things that we normally get right we didn’t get right.
“Our focus this week has been to make sure we get on top of things that we normally are good at and not deviate from the plan.”
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said his team are not getting caught up in the emotion surrounding the 100 Test between the two countries.
“To us, it is just another Test match, so we didn’t have anything special prepared,” said Stick.
He added: “We didn’t actually do anything different than we normally do when we play against other teams.
“Games between the All Blacks and South Africa are massive and the players understand that. The guys are excited and looking forward to that.”
Meanwhile, All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has made eight changes to his starting line-up, recalling seasoned campaigners such as flyhalf Beauden Barrett and influential lock Brodie Retallick.
Foster conceded the Springboks looked “flat” in recent weeks but said a quality opponent should never be underestimated, pointing to South Africa’s series victory over the British and Irish Lions.
“The style of the win was irrelevant, we’ve got to give them credit for that… they’re very experienced, we’re expecting them to have learned a lot in the last two weeks,” he said.
All Blacks Assistant coach John Plumtree spoke this week about South Africa regaining their “bully mentality” and All Blacks skipper Ardie Savea said he was expecting something similar.
“They’re very big, physical men and they just want to dominate,” he told reporters.
“So, it’s an exciting challenge and hopefully one we’re ready for.”
Players to watch
For New Zealand: Beauden Barrett gets the No.10 jersey back for this match. He has been in outstanding form for the All Blacks this season and he has all the skills to unlock the Boks’ defence. David Havili has established himself as the first-choice No.12 for the All Blacks and he has become a tough customer for opposition defences. He acts as a second playmaker and he has a big boot on him as well. Will Jordan will also give the Boks plenty of problems if he is given too much space. In the pack, Luke Jacobson brings plenty of speed and power and he is a good defender as well. Big lock Brodie Retallick is one of the best in the business in his position and will bring the physicality.
For South Africa: Albertus ‘Kwagga’ Smith gets the nod in the No.7 jersey and his pace around the breakdown area will be needed against the likes of Ardie Savea and Luke Jacobson. Lood de Jager is back to form a second-row combination with Eben Etzebeth. De Jager plays an integral role in the line-outs and that is an area where the Boks will be targeting on Saturday. In the backline, Handre Pollard has been poor in his team’s two defeats to Australia and he will need to take charge out wide if the Boks want to win this game. Centres Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende will face a different challenge in the form of Rieko Ioane and David Havili. What counts in the Bok duo’s favour is the experience that they have of playing together over the years.
Head to head
- This is set to be the 100th Test played between New Zealand and South Africa; the All Blacks have logged 59 wins and four draws from their previous 99 encounters with the Springboks.
- South Africa boast a 36 percent win rate against New Zealand in men’s Tests, the highest of any team to have faced them and 10 percentage points higher than next-best ranked Australia (26 percent); however, the Springboks have won only one of their last 10 meetings with the All Blacks (D1, L8).
- New Zealand have won their last nine consecutive men’s Tests heading into this fixture; the last time they enjoyed a longer winning streak was in October 2016 when they won an 18th consecutive Test by defeating Australia 37-10.
- South Africa come into this fixture on the back of two straight defeats to tournament hosts Australia; the last time the Springboks lost more than two consecutive Tests was a four-game stretch from October to November in 2016 which began with a 15-57 loss to New Zealand.
- South Africa have won four of their six previous men’s Tests in Australia against teams other than the Wallabies (L2); although, their last defeat in such a fixture came in November 2003 against New Zealand by a score of 9-29.
@rugby365com: New Zealand by 10 points.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Francois Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.
Date: Saturday, September 25
Venue: North Queensland Stadium, Townsville
Kick-off: 17.05 (09.05 SA time; 19.05 NZ time; 07.05 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be warm with a high of 26°C and a low of 18°C. There will be a slight breeze,
Referee: Luke Pearce (ENG)
Assistant referees: Jordan Way (AUS) and Reuben Keane (AUS)
TMO: Damon Murphy (AUS)
* Statistics provided by Opta Sports