Rugby Championship: South Africa v New Zealand match preview
Last Updated: 04/10/14 11:36am
New Zealand will be aiming to make it five straight wins when they take on South Africa in their final 2014 Rugby Championship fixture at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The All Blacks have already secured the overall title after they followed their draw with Australia on the opening weekend with four straight victories.
Taking centre stage on Saturday is New Zealand captain Richie McCaw who will become the most-capped All Black, winning his 134th cap, beating the record he currently jointly-holds with the great Colin Meads.
Even though the Springboks have no hope of topping the table they will be keen to avenge last year’s defeat to the All Blacks in Johannesburg.
On that occasion the Rugby Championship crown was at stake and New Zealand prevailed 38-27 after a nine-try thriller. In their only clash since, New Zealand won 14-10 earlier in this year's tournament.
South Africa are sweating on the fitness of No 8 Duane Vermuelen, who has been named in Heyneke Meyer’s starting XV but faces a race against time to recover from a rib cartilage injury. Schalk Burger will take his place if he misses out.
Bryan Habana has been named on the wing despite suffering a blow to the head in the 28-10 victory over Australia last time out.
If Vermuelen is passed fit then the only change from the Wallabies clash will be at hooker, where Bismarck du Plessis is preferred to Adriaan Strauss.
New Zealand have made two changes to the starting line-up which secured the title with a 34-13 win against Argentina last weekend.
Prop Joe Moody will make his first Test start after Wyatt Crockett failed to recover from a facial cut, while Jeremy Thrush replaces the concussed Brodie Retallick in the second row.
"For me it will come down to the tight forwards," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said ahead of the contest.
"If you get tight forward dominance, then you create the platform for your loose-forwards to play off. If you don't, then no matter how good your loose-forwards are you may struggle in the absence of momentum."
McCaw meanwhile is focused purely on victory, rather than making history. "To play at match at Ellis Park against the Boks is enough. That's what I'm looking forward to the most. It will be nice to sit back after a good performance and reflect on the milestones."
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handrè Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Victor Matfield, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Tebo Mohoje, 8 Duane Vermeulen/Schalk Burger.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger/Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Joe Moody, 2 Keven Mealamu, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Sam Whitelock, 6 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 8 Kieran Read.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Watch South Africa v New Zealand live on Saturday from 3.45pm on Sky Sports 2 HD