The All Blacks celebrate beating the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld in 2018.
Gordon Arons / Gallo Images
- The 100th The test between South Africa and New Zealand is loaded with amazing contests that can shape the outcome of the game.
- The teams will meet Saturday in Townsville, the fifth time they are in neutral territory.
- Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand forced the game to be moved to Queensland.
The Springboks and All Blacks could meet for the hundredth time since their first clash in August 1921, but no further matches have been expected.
The All Blacks defeated the Springboks when they last met in the 2019 Rugby World Cup stages, but it was Rassie Erasmus ’group who burst out laughing when they won the trophy.
The All Blacks changed coach and appointed a new captain, but will not be able to prove that they are better than SA.
Current results show that the All Blacks are on an upward trajectory, while the Boks are stagnating following the success of the British and Irish Lions series.
However, the form book tends to pop out the window when these parts come together and here are five contests that will enliven the iconic game:
13 – Lukhanyo Am against Rieko Ioane
That the British and Irish lions had to change their midfield in this series was an indicator of Am’s excellence. Although All Blacks are a different fish kettle and have more silky operators.
The lack of intercontinental Super Rugby has also meant that Ioane has not been fully tested by South African teams on defense, but for his franchise and country, he has thrived in his position.
Am’s standards have fallen in Australia’s two defeats, but he can hardly be blamed for the overall malfunction when problems have been at 9 and 10 from the perspective of game management.
That said, the Boks haven’t played with Am’s strengths, but he has thrived independently, while Ioane has been the beneficiary of a system that allows bibs to express themselves.
10 – Handre Pollard v Beauden Barrett
There is the idea that Barrett has been able to survive despite the weak beams when he played for the Hurricanes. As England demonstrated in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, parity is needed for any half-volley to find traction in a game. That said, Barrett remains New Zealand’s No. 10 number one despite the necessary flirtation with Richie Mo’unga, but if the All Black were pressured, it will be interesting how he responds.
As for Pollard, the less is said about his party in Australia, the better. While it is true that he recovered from a knee injury, in the two defeats against the Wallabies, he was failed by two basic aspects: defense and kicks.
The former will be furiously tested by the All Black strike runners and Pollard will have to find form and speed in this game.
8 – Duane Vermeulen v. Luke Jacobson
Overall, Vermeulen has been his best moment against the All Blacks, but there is a feeling that, in recovering from an ankle injury, he has been playing inside. It cannot be afforded to do so against New Zealand and without a number 7 specializing in ball transport, the responsibility will fall on Vermeulen to carry out this task.
Jacobson is an internationally unknown number, but with him in the back row there is a more steely and careful look. This is a department that would like to prove itself and face Vermeulen and overcoming it will give Jacobson international brownie points.
4 – Eben Etzebeth against Brodie Retallick
This battle will have an added significance, as Retallick has not played against the Springboks since the 2019 16-16 draw, when RG Snyman attended him. Snyman is not close, but in Etzebeth, Retallick faces a long-standing enemy.
That Retallick is more skilled than Etzebeth is certainly, but what will be required of Retallick is extreme physics to counteract that of Etzebeth.
He has never missed in the past, but it remains to be seen if he is the same player after the Wellington incident. He remains New Zealand’s most influential striker, while Etzebeth, with plenty of miles of testing this year, needs to find that extra equipment to tackle Retallick.
Front row battle
Joe ‘Tripod’ Moody will have a lot to prove, especially with the way he got out of jail when he wasn’t penalized in the 2019 World Cup clash for his uproar. Nepo Laulala is a solid fighter, but none of the SAs should lose sleep while Codie Taylor remains world-class.
While not the most mobile, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Karl Tu’inukuafe are New Zealand’s best mixing accessories and are waiting to deal with Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch.
Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe will have to be introduced early enough to make sure the Boks get on the front foot, especially when it is known that the All Blacks usually make frequencies when it comes to officiating.
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick , 3 Grandson Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager , 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn