There are just two changes to the starting XV from the team that beat Argentina last weekend. All Blacks captain Richie McCaw returns to the seven jersey for his 120th Test with Sam Cane moving to the bench while prop Charlie Faumuina comes on for Owen Franks who has succumbed to a groin injury and Ben Franks comes onto the bench. The other change on the bench sees Dane Coles come in as reserve hooker.
The team is (Test caps in brackets):
1. Tony Woodcock (103)
2. Andrew Hore (80)
3. Charlie Faumuina (12)
4. Brodie Retallick (19)
5. Samuel Whitelock (46)
6. Liam Messam (25)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (119)
8. Kieran Read (56)
9. Aaron Smith (20)
10. Aaron Cruden (24)
11. Julian Savea (16)
12. Ma’a Nonu (83)
13. Conrad Smith (74)
14. Ben Smith (20)
15. Israel Dagg (32)
16. Dane Coles (9)
17. Wyatt Crockett (18)
18. Ben Franks (27)
19. Steven Luatua (4)
20. Sam Cane (11)
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (9)
22. Beauden Barrett (12)
23. Charles Piutau (5)
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Playing the Springboks at Ellis Park is a challenge that this team is really looking forward to and one we are very excited about. We know the South Africans will come at us with their physical game but to win the Championship they will have to do that by scoring four tries so we are expecting more ball movement than we have seen in the past. So the answer is pretty simple for us – we will have to match their physicality and be very accurate with our execution across the park, both on attack and defensively.”
• The All Blacks will field another hugely experienced side against South Africa this weekend with 824 caps in the match day 23.
• Ben Smith has equalled the Investec Rugby Championship / Tri Nations record of seven tries in a season, jointly held by former All Blacks fullback Christian Cullen (2000) and current Springboks winger Bryan Habana (2012).
• Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith will play their 51st Test together as a midfield combination this weekend – a world record for a midfield partnership.
• Smith is currently equal on Test caps with former All Blacks captain and centre Tana Umaga and this weekend will be playing his 75th Test.
• The All Blacks have played South Africa 86 times with 49 wins to the All Blacks, 34 to South Africa and three draws. The All Blacks beat South Africa 29–15 three weeks ago in Auckland. In that match, Kieran Read, who was playing his 200th first–class game that night, became the first All Blacks forward to score two tries in a Test against South Africa.
• The last Test between the two sides in South Africa was in Johannesburg last year, with the All Blacks winning 32 -16 on that occasion.
• The All Blacks and South Africa play for the Freedom Cup. The trophy was introduced in 2004 as part of the 10th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election. It is currently held by the All Blacks.
The Investec Rugby Championship – All Blacks Tests
1. Australia, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 17 August. All Blacks 49 Australia 27.
2. Australia, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 24 August. All Blacks 27 Australia 16.
3. Argentina, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, 7.35PM, Saturday 7 September. All Blacks 28 Argentina 13
4. South Africa, Eden Park, Auckland, 7.35PM, Saturday 14 September. All Blacks 29 South Africa 15
5. Argentina, Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 7.40PM, Saturday 28 September. All Blacks 33 Argentina 15
6. South Africa (Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 5.00PM, Saturday 5 October)