Intensity and brutal force is expected when New Zealand take on wounded South Africa during their historic 100th Test match in Townsville on Saturday in what will be the first time they meet since the last World Cup.
The All Blacks, who have won their opening four Rugby Championship matches against Australia and Argentina, are overwhelming favourites to wrap up a 12th southern hemisphere championship title with a win at the North Queensland Stadium.
Despite the much needed win for both sides, there is a lot more at stake in this fierce rivalry that goes back a century which has been largely been dominated by the rampaging All Blacks.
The All Blacks will be motivated by the fact that they prevailed in a high-quality pool clash at the 2019 World Cup even though the Springboks went on to win the tournament by beating England in the final in Yokohama.
South African missed last year’s test championship because of the Covid-19 pandemic and were bumped off the top of the world rankings by the All Blacks in the wake of a second successive loss to Australia last week.
While New Zealand have by far enjoyed the better of the rivalry since South Africa returned from isolation, this fixture still holds a special place in the rugby calendar for both nations.
New Zealand VS South Africa
For the All Blacks, Joe Moody retains the number one starting jersey in the starting front row and Nepo Laulala is back in the number three jersey with Codie Taylor returning at starting hooker.
Props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Ofa Tuungafasi, along with hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, are front row cover from the bench.
In the second row, the hugely-experienced Brodie Retallick returns alongside Scott Barrett, with Patrick Tuipulotu the reserve lock.
In the loose forwards, All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has picked Akira Ioane is at blindside flanker, captain Ardie Savea is at seven and Luke Jacobson at number eight and Ethan Blackadder is the loose forward impact from the bench.
Among the backs, TJ Perenara is at halfback, with Beauden Barrett back in the starting 10 jersey in his 97th Test and his 15th Test against South Africa.
David Havili returns at second five-eighth, Rieko Ioane is again at centre and the starting back three from last week’s Test are retained, with George Bridge again on the left wing.
Will Jordan on the right wing and Jordie Barrett at fullback, halfback Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie and midfielder Quinn Tupaea are the back reserves.
On the other hand, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber recalled the experienced trio of Lood de Jager, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn as part of the five changes to the match-day squad.
Trevor Nyakane is named at loosehead prop for his 50th Test cap, two of the changes are in the starting lineup and more three on the bench which feature a five-three split.
De Jager has completed his return-to-play protocol after suffering a concussion against the Wallabies and he reunites with Eben Etzebeth in the second row with Marvin Orie dropping out of the squad.
The other change in the starting lineup is at blindside flank where Kwagga Smith is promoted from the bench in a direct switch with Franco Mostert.
Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn are the new players amongst the replacements, with Steyn set to provide cover at centre and fullback and Jantjies at flyhalf while Herschel Jantjies will cover scrumhalf.
Marco van Staden and Mostert, who covers lock and loose forward, are set to spark some energy later in the game, much like the replacement front row of Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Kock (both props) and Malcolm Marx (hooker).
Pick: New Zealand Wins by 0.20 at BetXChange