THIS WEEK it is all go as the big guns from the Rugby Championship are in action against European opposition in the second round of November Tests.
The Springboks playing Wales arguably throws up the tie of the round; Australia face Italy; Argentina face England; New Zealand face their bogey team, France.
No side has really upset the predictions by naming wacky teams, though South Africa have tempered their known quantities and bruisers by picking Pat Lambie at full-back with the enigmatic Willie Le Roux on the bench, Jaque Fourie is back in the fold at outside centre following time in Japan and tight-head Frans Malherbe is in for his Test debut.
Australia make only one change, with Rob Simmons packing down at blindside following injury to Scott Fardy. New Zealand, on the other hand, have picked the most experienced pack they possibly can with the forwards to face France having an amassed 538 caps between them – with three centurions Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock starting.
The All Blacks do have lesser-known back Charles Piutau starting on the wing, centre Ryan Crotty on the bench and free-scoring winger Ben Smith starting at outside centre as Conrad Smith takes a sabbatical.
Argentina haven’t named their team to face England yet.
Springbok XV versus Wales: Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (c), Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen.
Subs: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, JJ Engelbrecht, Willie Le Roux
Wallabies XV versus Italy: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen (c)
Subs: Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Nic White, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane
All Blacks XV versus France: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Charles Piutau; Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam; Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock
Subs: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan CrottyLike Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.