Savea set for first Test start

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Hurricanes livewire Ardie Savea is in line for his first All Blacks start, named at openside flanker for their clash with the Springboks.

Savea replaces the injured Sam Cane in the starting XV in his sixth Test, with the Chiefs captain set to miss up to six weeks with a hamstring injury.

The Savea brothers will start together for the first time. Photo: Getty ImagesCrusaders backrower Matt Todd will come off the bench, replacing Savea, with Lima Sopoaga the final change in the 23, coming on to the pine for Aaron Cruden (groin strain).

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said New Zealand would be wary of a desperate South Africa, who have one win from their first three Rugby Championship matches.

“We've worked hard this week on improving in the areas we felt weren't good enough last weekend.  We're confident that those areas have been addressed and our performance will be improved," he said.

"Whilst we have been reasonably happy with our three games to date in the Investec Rugby Championship, we are always striving for improvement and with South Africa having their backs to the wall, we know nothing but our best will be good enough.  Accuracy with intensity will be paramount."

The Springboks have reshuffled their second row. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Springboks have made two changes for the clash, headlined by the inclusion of Pieter-Steph Du Toit in the second row after Lood de Jager bruised his knee in their clash with the Wallabies.

Vincent Koch will line up at tighthead for the Springboks, replacing Lourens Adriaanse in the starting team, while hooker Malcolm Marx is set for a debut off the bench.

Willem Alberts comes on to the bench for Du Toit and Damian de Allende returns to the 23 in place of Lionel Mapoe.

Vincent Koch will start for South Africa. Photo: Getty ImagesSpringboks coach Allister Coetzee said he expected improvement from his side this weekend.

“Each match between these two traditional rugby rivals is always tough, no matter what the circumstances are, and Saturday’s Test is bound to be another tremendous battle,” Coetzee said.

“We know that our discipline was not on par against the Wallabies in Brisbane, and we have to show a big improvement on several fronts. Our defence will have to be solid for the full duration of the match, because the All Blacks have the game breakers that will punish you for any defensive lapse.”

All Blacks team

Joe Moody,  Dane Coles,  Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett,  Julian Savea, Ryan Crotty,  Malakai Fekitoa, Israel Dagg,  Ben Smith. Reserves:  Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett,   Charlie Faumuina, Luke Romano, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

Springboks team

Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Oupa Mohoje, Warren Whiteley, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh, Jesse Kriel, Bryan Habana, Johan Goosen. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Mostert, Willem Alberts, Jaco Kriel, Morne Steyn, Damian de Allende.