Rugby Championship: South Africa v New Zealand preview
Last Updated: 25/07/15 3:21pm
The world's two top-ranked nations clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg this Saturday as the Springboks host the All Blacks, live on Sky Sports.
The All Blacks have handed debuts to Lima Sopoaga and James Broadhurst for the difficult trip to South Africa, while the Springboks have recalled Heinrich Brussow to their side.
Sopoaga has been preferred to Beauden Barrett in the No 10 jersey. Though this will be his first taste of international rugby he is partnered by Highlanders team-mate Aaron Smith in the half-backs, which will help him settle into the New Zealand team on Saturday.
The pair guided the Otago-based side to their maiden Super Rugby title this season and will be looking to cement their places as the first-choice pairing to defend New Zealand's trophy at the World Cup later in the year.
Broadhurst slots into the second row where he partners last year's Player of the Year Brodie Retallick.
Promising Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo suffered an injury in the All Blacks' opening Rugby Championship game against Argentina, and is replaced this week by team-mate Ben Smith in the No 14 jersey, while a return to form has seen Israel Dagg retain his place at full-back.
Sonny Bill Williams will not feature in the match-day 23, with the highly experienced midfield pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith taking the field once again, and Malakai Fekitoa handed a place on the bench.
In the forwards Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks pack down either side of Dane Coles in the front row, while Liam Messam comes into the side at the expense of Jerome Kaino, where he joins Richie McCaw and Kieran Read in the back row.
Heinrich Brussow has not featured for South Africa since their semi-final loss to Australia in the 2011 World Cup. Throughout Heyneke Meyer's tenure as coach he has maintained the 29-year-old does not fit the mould of flanker he prefers to select, but with injuries to several loose forwards Meyer has turned to the specialist fetcher in what will be his 21st Test in the green and gold.
There will be no time for Brussow to familiarise himself with international rugby as his first task back in the Springbok set-up will be to compete for the ball with one of the world's best openside flankers in McCaw, but Brussow will not be alone in his task.
His partners in the loose trio - Schalk Burger and Bath's Francois Louw - have both played fetcher for the South Africans at one point or another.
With Jean de Villiers still out and Victor Matfield picking up an injury in last week's loss to Australia, Meyer has handed the captaincy to No 8 Burger.
It will be Ruan Pienaar and Handre Pollard who take on the new-look All Black half-backs, while South Africa’s young midfield combination of Pollard, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel this week earned high praise from Steve Hansen, who referred to them as ‘the way forward’ for South Africa.
JP Pietersen, originally named in the side on the right wing, pulled up injured on Wednesday, and has been replaced in the run-on side by Cornal Hendricks, with the uncapped Lionel Mapoe taking Hendricks’ place on the bench.
These two teams have served up some scintillating rugby over the course of time, none more so than their last two encounters at Ellis Park.
In 2013 The All Blacks beat an expansive Springbok outfit 38-27 as they took the title from their hosts, and in 2014 Pat Lambie broke New Zealand hearts with a last-minute penalty to clinch victory for his country.
The two sides have met 89 times since their first encounter in 1921, with the All Blacks claiming 51 victories to the Springboks’ 35.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 7 Francois Louw, 8 Schalk Burger (c).
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 1 Tony Woodcock, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Brodie Retallick, 5 James Broadhurst, 6 Liam Messam, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 8 Kieran Read.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.
Watch South Africa take on New Zealand on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1 from 3.30pm