TRC Hub: Rassie says All Blacks-Boks showdown will be a "close game", Pumas opt for experience

The Rugby Championship
by RUGBY.com.au staff

The second weekend of the Rugby Championship is upon us and there's some fascinating lineups coming through already.

Check out our Rugby Championship Hub for all of the team info, odds and kick-off times for thisweekend.

SCHEDULE

Saturday July 27 (AEST)

5.35pm - New Zealand v South Africa, Westpac Stadium, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo

7.45pm - Australia v Argentina, Suncorp Stadium, LIVE on Network Ten, FOX SPORTS and Kayo

New Zealand V South Africa 

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus is curious to see how his team react now that they're actually given a decent chance of beating the All Blacks on New Zealand soil.

Without a win in eight previous visits, including the 57-0 demolition in Albany two years ago, a South African team given no show revived rugby's great rivalry with a 36-34 upset win at Westpac Stadium 10 months ago.

They square off at the same venue on Saturday in a Rugby Championship Test which is tougher to call than most over the last decade.

While Erasmus has named close to his strongest team, there is an experimental feel to an All Blacks side fielding Beauden Barrett at fullback and flankers Matt Todd and Shannon Frizell in rare starts.

Erasmus's decision to omit a group of 14 players from last week's win over the Wallabies and send them early to Wellington could prove to be a master stroke.

"I guess people will look at the team we picked to play Australia and there could be a misinterpretation that we disrespected Australia but it was more to do with the respect we have for New Zealand," Erasmus said.

"We think it will be a close game. There are massive expectations on both sides and excitement and also anticipation in seeing how much we have grown.

"People think we have a chance now and players react a little bit differently, so that will be interesting to see on Saturday."

Erasmus believes his side still lacks the consistency to win three knockout matches at a World Cup.

They didn't kick on from last year's Wellington triumph as well as he had hoped, posting losses to England and Wales on their November tour.

Before that, they lost the return match to New Zealand in Pretoria 32-30, a result that showed where both teams stand when the chips are down, he said.

"Good teams do what New Zealand did to us at Loftus. We were waiting for them and wanted to get the double and they managed to handle it, got it back in the last two minutes and beat us. That's what world class teams do.

"We're number five in the world, they're number one and showed us when they came over there."

Erasmus said this week is a chance to start building a run of compelling performances heading into the World Cup.

He described last week' 35-17 win over the Wallabies as "solid".

"We have got better but we are a long way from that playoff mode in the World Cup and these next four games we have to get there if we want to go further and make the final."

TEAMS

New Zealand to face South Africa

Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read (capt), Matt Todd, Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Vaea Fifita, Dalton Papali'i, Aaron Smith, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge.

South Africa to face New Zealand 

Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjes, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

REFEREES

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)

Assistant Referee 1: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Assistant Referee 2: Shuhei Kubo (Japan) 

TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

ODDS

New Zealand - $2.55

South Africa - $4.60

AUSTRALIA v ARGENTINA

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has made five changes from the side that ran the All Blacks close in their Rugby Championship opener for Saturday's Test against Australia in Brisbane.

Stalwart hooker Agustin Creevy did not make the trip to Australia because of a shoulder injury and will be replaced in the front row by Julian Montoya with uncapped rake Santiago Socini set to make his debut from the bench.

At No.8, Facundo Isa will get his first taste of Test rugby since he moved back to France in 2016 after replacing Javier Ortega Desio at the back of the scrum.

Nicolas Sanchez is one of five overseas-based players selected in the Pumas squad for their first 2019 Rugby Championship Test. Photo: Getty ImagesLedesma is using the Rugby Championship to try and work some of Argentina's Europe-based talent back into the squad heavily reliant on the Jaguares team.

The other changes continued the policy of rotation that the Jaguares employed so successfully on their run to this year's Super Rugby final.

Tomas Lezana replaced Marcos Kremer at openside flanker, Santiago Cordero will start on the wing in place of Matias Moroni who moves into the centres and Joaquin Tuculet gets a run at fullback with Emiliano Boffelli left out of the squad.

Experienced loose forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon was included on a forward-heavy bench along with Socini, who came through in English rugby but will join the Jaguares for next season.

There is more experience at halfback where flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli resume the combination that helped Argentina give the All Blacks a scare in a 20-16 loss to the world champions in Buenos Aires last week.

Argentina got their first Rugby Championship win over the Wallabies on Australian soil on the Gold Coast last year. 

TEAMS

Australia to face Argentina

Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (capt), Lukhan Salakai-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Sekope Kepu, Folau Faingaa, Scot Sio. Replacements: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Luke Jones, Nic White, Matt Toomua, James O'Connor.

Argentina to face Australia

Joaquin Tuculet, Santiago Cordero, Matias Moroni, Jeronimo De la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, Facundo Isa, Tomas Lezana, Pablo Matera (capt), Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Juan Figallo, Julian Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. Replacements: Santiago Socini, Mayco Vivas, Ramiro Herrera, Matias Alemanno, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Felipe Ezcurra, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Matias Orlando.

REFEREES

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)

Assistant Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)

Assistant Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

ODDS

Australia - $1.20

Argentina - $1.52