Photo: Annami – Rugby 15 New Zealand
The All Blacks team to play South Africa in their final Investec Rugby Championship match in Johannesburg, South Africa, this weekend has been named.
The Test against South Africa will be played at Ellis Park this Saturday 4 October. (Kick-off: 5.05PM, 4.05AM Sunday NZT)
The starting XV features just two injury-enforced changes from the team that won the Investec Rugby Championship against Argentina last week and they are both in the forwards: prop Joe Moody will make his first Test start, coming in for Wyatt Crockett, while lock Jeremy Thrush gets his second start against South Africa this year, replacing Brodie Retallick.
On the reserves bench, Dane Coles returns after re-joining the team in South Africa following the birth of his son, with Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua and Liam Messam also coming onto the bench. In the back reserves, Tawera Kerr-Barlow gets his first opportunity in the Rugby Championship while Ryan Crotty comes in for Cory Jane who has a hamstring strain.
The team is (with Test caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (4)
2. Keven Mealamu (118)
3. Owen Franks (62)
4. Jeremy Thrush (8)
5. Samuel Whitelock (58)
6. Jerome Kaino (53)
7. Richie McCaw (captain) (132)
8. Kieran Read (67)
9. Aaron Smith (34)
10. Beauden Barrett (24)
11. Julian Savea (27)
12. Malakai Fekitoa (5)
13. Conrad Smith (81)
14. Ben Smith (34)
15. Israel Dagg (42)
16. Dane Coles (22)
17. Ben Franks (36)
18. Charlie Faumuina (21)
19. Steven Luatua (13)
20. Liam Messam (34)
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (14)
22. Colin Slade (13)
23. Ryan Crotty (8)
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This weekend is shaping up to be another classic All Blacks-Springboks Test match with the two top teams in the world going head to head again on the Boks’ home patch.
“Even though we have won the Rugby Championship, this is the game we always look forward to playing each year. It’s a massive challenge which will be spurred on by a huge amount of personal and team pride. This group has always believed that enhancing the legacy of the All Blacks is one of its overriding responsibilities, so we will be looking to put in another quality performance on the park.
“However, we know we will be up against a desperate and determined South African team who will be under a lot of pressure to win, which will make them a very dangerous and formidable opponent.
Hansen also paid tribute to All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw who will this weekend set a new record for most matches played for the All Blacks – 134.
“On behalf of myself and the team, I would like to congratulate Richie on the achievement. He is a special player who has played each and every one of those games with a huge amount of commitment, passion and mental fortitude. This is reflected in his unwavering will to win and shown by the fact he has won an incredible 89 percent of all his matches.”
* Julian Savea is the leading international try scorer having dotted down eight times so far this year.
* Conrad Smith and Victor Matfield both recorded their 73rd Test match wins last weekend.
* The All Blacks and South Africa have played each other 88 times, with 51 wins to the All Blacks, 34 to the Springboks and three draws. The All Blacks narrowly beat South Africa 14-10 in Wellington earlier in the Championship, while the last Test in South Africa was the epic Johannesburg clash last year which the All Blacks won 38-27.
The Investec Rugby Championship – All Blacks Tests
1. Australia, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 16 August. All Blacks 12 Australia 12
2. Australia, Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 23 August. All Blacks 51 Australia 20
3. Argentina, McLean Park, Napier, Saturday 6 September. All Blacks 28 Argentina 9
4. South Africa, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 13 September. All Blacks 14 South Africa 10
5. Argentina, Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, Saturday 27 September. All Blacks 34 Argentina 13
6. South Africa (Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 5.05PM, Saturday 4 October)