DUNEDIN WILL play host to the first meeting in The Rugby Championship between the table-topping All Blacks and the traveling Springboks. The home side currently hold a three-from-three performance and top the table with 12 points, and are up against an inconsistent Boks side.
The squad features an interchange of several starting XV and bench roles from last week. In the forwards, hooker Andrew Hore gets a start in the number two jersey with Keven Mealamu on the bench; Samuel Whitelock swaps with Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam starts ahead of Victor Vito.
In the backs, halfback Piri Weepu gets his first start of the year, with Aaron Smith on the bench; while Tamati Ellison comes onto the bench replacing Ben Smith.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We are all looking forward to the challenge that the Springboks will bring this weekend. They are an opponent that we have immense respect for, they are our traditional foe and there is great history between our two countries. It’s going to be a huge Test match. It is also the first All Blacks Test in Dunedin’s indoor stadium, which is exciting for the team.”
“At the halfway stage of the new Investec Rugby Championship we are very happy, from a results point of view. There is a second challenge we have set ourselves – to constantly improve our game – and in that regard we are not the finished product. However, the coaching staff and team leaders are reasonably happy with the progress we are making and Saturday gives us another opportunity to confront both challenges – our opponent and ourselves,” Hansen added.
The last Test between the two sides was in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in August last year, with South Africa winning 18-5. The last match in New Zealand was earlier that year in Wellington with the All Blacks winning 40-7.
New Zealand v South Africa
Saturday, 15th September 2012 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 08:35 BST live on Sky Sports 1
15. Israel Dagg, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Piri Weepu, 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Andrew Hore, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Richie McCaw (C), 8. Kieran Read
16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Charlie Faumuina, 18. Brodie Retallick, 19. Victor Vito, 20. Aaron Smith, 21. Beauden Barrett, 22. Tamati Ellison