South Africa against the All Blacks is normally the match both countries supporters look forward to in the year but this time around it seems that it will only be the New Zealanders.
The Springboks have been unconvincing this year so far under Allister Coetzee and the knives have been out since the first Rugby Championship match against the Argentinians in Nelspruit. Lats week match against a very poor Aussie team also did not help the Springboks as they lost a game they should have won easily.
The Aussies have been founded wanted throughout the year going down to a whitewash against Eddie Jones England side and they also took a hammering against the All Blacks in both test this far.
The Springboks do have a few regulars on the sideline which did not help Coetzee in building his team since he took over in April. His sections have confused the public and his game plan that the players have showed this far on the park unconvincing to say the least.
We all know that Coetzee had a few problems to overcome which was out of his hands starting with the fact that SARU only appointed him in April after Meyer resigned already in December last year.
But excuses aside one expect the Springboks to at least improve game to game and that have not been the case. Not good defense at critical times and changing critical positions within the team did not help Coetzee in building confidence with his players in the team.
The All Blacks have been the best team in the world for several years now and one can even say this All Black team has gone a step further this year.
With world class players in all positions, and that includes the bench, rugby coaches all over the world is figuring out how to get one over them.
The only way South Africa stand any chance of an upset is to go back and do the basics right and play a conservative game on Saturday. One need to crawl before you can walk, before you can run and this Springbok team struggle to crawl at this stage.
Set pieces will be important and one just hope that their will be no senseless kicking from the Boks and if they kick that pressure will be put on the All Blacks.
The All Blacks simply don’t lose at home and while the Boks have historically been one of a few teams who could push them all the way, that seems highly unlikely this time round.
Argentina was able to rattle the All Blacks last week with hard hitting at ruck time and playing straight from rucks and set pieces which found the All Blacks defense wanting. This will force the All Blacks to commit more players to contact situations and open up the space in the backline.
Whatever you think this will be a bruising battle and although most gives this one to the All Blacks, the Springboks has been the one team that have always been the All Blacks most difficult opponents.
New Zealand have made two changes to their matchday squad with Ardie Savea that comes in for the injured Sam Cane and Matt Todd coming into the squad as loose forward cover. Lima Sopoaga also replace the injured Aaron Cruden on the bench.
For the Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit gets his first start of this year’s Rugby Championship with Vincent Koch that starts at tighthead prop and Willem Alberts and Malcolm Marx come onto the bench.
2015: New Zealand won 20-18 in London (RWC semi-final)
2015: New Zealand won 27-20 in Johannesburg
2014: South Africa won 27-25 in Johannesburg
2014: New Zealand won 14-10 in Wellington
2013: New Zealand won 38-27 in Johannesburg
2013: New Zealand won 29-15 in Auckland
2012: New Zealand won 32-16 in Johannesburg
2012: New Zealand won 21-11 in Dunedin
2011: South Africa won 18-5 in Port Elizabeth
2011: New Zealand won 40-7 in Wellington
Prediction: Many will disagree with me but I think it will be much closer than it is too be believed by the public. All Blacks by 10 points.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
South Africa: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Damian de Allende