Match details: All Blacks vs South Africa, Saturday 21 September, 9.45pm NZT, International Stadium, Yokohama.
Won: All Blacks 58, South Africa 36, Drawn 4
Last time: All Blacks 16, South Africa 16 (27 July 2019)
Referee: Jerome Garces
The All Blacks have named a match-day 23 stacked with big game performers. The biggest talking points hinge around the selection of two Hurricanes playing out of their regular position. In the pack, Ardie Savea has been selected at blindside flanker with Sam Cane pulling on the seven jersey. In the backs, Beauden Barrett shifts to fullback with Richie Mo’unga slotting in at first five-eighth. In the reserves, Shannon Frizell caps off a memorable All Blacks call up by being named on the bench. Consistency is the key word for South Africa. For the first time since the 2015 semifinal, South Africa has named an unchanged side. They also only have one change from the side that drew with the All Blacks 16-16 in Wellington in July with skipper Siya Kolisi back in the six jersey.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
The All Blacks and South Africa have meet four times previously in World Cups with the honours shared at two wins apiece. South Africa won the 1995 final 15-12 before taking out the 3rd/4th playoff in 1999 by a margin of 22-18. The All Blacks were too good for South Africa in 2003 with a 29-9 victory in the quarterfinals. They met again in the 2015 semifinal with the All Blacks coming out on top 20-18.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says a Test against old foes South Africa is the best way to open the tournament for his team. “The challenge of playing one of our oldest and most respected foes in the opening Test of RWC2019 has us excited and energised by what lies ahead. Each time we play South Africa, it’s a tight battle and a real arm wrestle. To perform at our very best, we’ll have to play with real clarity, intent, energy and clear heads.”
Steve Hansen stressed early in the week just how important a strong bench will be during the World Cup. “In today’s rugby environment, you need to have the mindset that it’s not just about who starts, it’s also about what the players coming off the bench can provide.”
Both South Africa and the All Blacks have named impressive reserve benches. Reserve Springboks halfback Herschel Jantjies sparked South Africa to a draw against the All Blacks in Wellington and prop Tendai Mtawarira provides over 100 caps of experience from the bench. The All Blacks will look for plenty of impact off the bench from proven world-class performers Codie Taylor, Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams.
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TEAMS (caps in brackets)
All Blacks: 1. Joe Moody (41) 2. Dane Coles (64) 3. Nepo Laulala (20) 4. Samuel Whitelock (112)
5. Scott Barrett (32) 6. Ardie Savea (34) 7. Sam Cane (63) 8. Kieran Read - captain (122) 9. Aaron Smith (87) 10. Richie Mo’unga (12) 11. George Bridge (5) 12. Ryan Crotty (45) 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (38) 14. Sevu Reece (3) 15. Beauden Barrett (78)
Reserves: 16. Codie Taylor (45) 17. Ofa Tuungafasi (30) 18. Angus Ta’avao (8) 19. Patrick Tuipulotu (25) 20. Shannon Frizell (5) 21. TJ Perenara (59) 22. Sonny Bill Williams (53) 23. Ben Smith (80)
South Africa: 1. Steven Kitshoff 2. Malcolm Marx 3. Frans Malherbe 4. Eben Etzebeth 5. Franco Mostert 6. Siya Kolisi (captain) 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit 8. Duane Vermeulen 9. Faf de Klerk 10. Handré Pollard 11. Makazole Mapimpi 12. Damian de Allende 13. Lukhanyo Am 14. Cheslin Kolbe 15. Willie le Roux
Reserves: 16. Bongi Mbonambi 17. Tendai Mtawarira 18. Trevor Nyakane 19. RG Snyman 20. Francois Louw 21. Herschel Jantjies 22. Frans Steyn 23. Jesse Kriel