CAPE TOWN – If the Springboks were hoping that the All Blacks would rest a few stars like they did against Argentina, they would’ve been completely wrong about that.
Instead, coach Steve Hansen has hauled out most of his heavyweights for Saturday’s Rugby Championship showdown at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington (9.35am SA time kickoff).
Hansen recalled Jordie Barrett at fullback, which sees Ben Smith shifting to wing, while there’s a new centre pair in Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown.
And the new-look backline changes don’t end there, as powerhouse Rieko Ioane will be at No 11, along with established halfbacks Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith.
Following the massive display from Shannon Frizell against Argentina, Liam Squire will have a point to prove at blindside flank.
Brodie Retallick’s injury last week sees Sam Whitelock move to No 4 lock, and Scott Barrett taking over at No 5.
The bench is also loaded, with Sonny Bill Williams coming back from injury, and Damian McKenzie is the utility-back cover.
“We’ve had a good week’s preparation here in the capital, focusing on what we need to bring to the game through our skill-sets, the intensity of our play and our energy,” Hansen said in a statement.
“We know that we’ll have to be at our very best in all these areas to counter an opposition we know will be desperate following their back-to-back losses.
“That means we’ll have to respond with a quality performance and a real hunger to be better.
“You just have to look at our last encounter in Cape Town to understand what kind of beast we will be facing.”
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will name his team on Thursday.
The All Blacks team is:
15 Jordie Barrett 14 Ben Smith 13 Anton Lienert-Brown 12 Ryan Crotty 11 Rieko Ioane 10 Beauden Barrett 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read (captain) 7 Sam Cane 6 Liam Squire 5 Scott Barrett 4 Sam Whitelock 3 Owen Franks 2 Codie Taylor 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Bench: 16 Liam Coltman 17 Tim Perry 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea 21 TJ Perenara 22 Sonny Bill Williams 23 Damian McKenzie.@ashfakmohamed