All Blacks coach Ian Foster has named a strong team as he chases what he’s describing as a Rugby Championship Grand Slam agaInst the Springboks on Saturday.
The starting forward pack remains unchanged from the named outfit last week and Luke Jacobson returns at No.8 after his late withdrawal with illness last weekend. Asafo Aumua comes in at reserve hooker and George Bower comes in for Karl Tu’inukuafe on the bench.
In the backs, Brad Weber replaces TJ Perenara at halfback, with Perenara moving to the bench.
Anton Lienert-Brown returns from injury to the No.13 jersey, with Rieko Ioane moving to the left wing and Sevu Reece on the right.
Richie Mo’unga, who re-joined the team this week after quarantine, was named on the bench with Damian McKenzie as Beauden Barrett was preferred at flyhalf and Jordie Barrett retains the No.15 jersey.
“The energy levels are high in the team, it’s our fifth Test in a row, and we’re highly motivated ahead of another big Test against South Africa and the last Test of the Championship,” Foster said.
“We’ve achieved the Championship title, which we’re really proud to have achieved.
“The fact that we now have the chance to achieve a potential Grand Slam against our Southern Hemisphere opponents is pretty special. I’m excited by that and it has already given this weekend’s Test an edge.
“We learnt some lessons last week. We didn’t look after the ball as well as we could have and some of our work at the ruck wasn’t as good as we wanted. We have to lift our performance in that area and the team is keen to get that right this weekend.”
The All Blacks won last weekend’s historic 100th match against the boks 19-17 thanks to a late penalty from Jordi Barrett.
The aftermath has been dominated by argument over the Springboks style, and All Blacks legend John Kirwan was the latest to stick the boot in on Thursday.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB Kirwan said it was frustrating to watch.
“I think the scary thing for me was after the game the coach and the captain thought they’d had a good game,” Kirwan said.
“They’re not going to change their DNA but I think they need to because it’s not the game that I love.
“We do have an obligation to the fan, we want to make this game entertaining, if they want to kick high balls, it’s still tactically acceptable … but I don’t believe that’s in the best interest of the game and not within what I would call the values of the game.”
South Africa named their team on Tuesday night, making two changes from the team narrowly beaten in Townsville.
All Blacks squad (with caps)
1. Joe Moody (53)
2. Codie Taylor (63)
3. Nepo Laulala (36)
4. Brodie Retallick (88)
5. Scott Barrett (47)
6. Akira Ioane (9)
7. Ardie Savea (55) – captain
8. Luke Jacobson (9)
9. Brad Weber (13)
10. Beauden Barrett (97)
11. Rieko Ioane (43)
12. David Havili (10)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (52)
14. Sevu Reece (13)
15. Jordie Barrett (31)
16. Asafo Aumua (3)
17. George Bower (7)
18. Ofa Tuungafasi (41)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (40)
20. Ethan Blackadder (6)
21. TJ Perenara (74)
22. Richie Mo’unga (26)
23. Damian McKenzie (36)