South Africa unchanged for ‘ultimate challenge’ against All Blacks

Wallabies seek to pick up pieces of dreadful Championship as they face Argentina

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has named an unchanged side to face New Zealand in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Auckland. Photograph: Getty Images

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has named an unchanged side to face New Zealand in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Auckland. Photograph: Getty Images

 

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has kept faith with the side that comprehensively beat Australia last week by naming an unchanged side to face New Zealand in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Auckland.

The Springboks recorded their first ever win at Lang Park in Brisbane with a 38-12 victory over the Wallabies and are looking to win their first game against the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1937.

Meyer’s forwards smashed the Wallabies into submission last week with their massive backrow of Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts and Francois Louw particularly destructive, while locks Eben Etzebeth and Flip van der Merwe were also prominent.

“We had a good win last weekend, but that is in the past now,” said Meyer. “Playing the All Blacks in New Zealand is the ultimate challenge in rugby and one we’re very excited about facing.”

The Springboks lead the Rugby Championship on 14 points, one ahead of the All Blacks, and the winner of the game at Eden Park could determine who goes on to claim the Southern Hemisphere title next month.


Messam returns
Rugged blindside flanker Liam Messam has returned to the New Zealand side following a hamstring strain.

Messam was a late withdrawal from the All Blacks side to face Australia in the opening contest of the tournament last month, allowing promising loose forward Steven Luatua to make his first start in a test match.

Luatua’s impressive performances in the All Blacks’ three victories so far put extreme pressure on Messam to regain his starting role when he recovered from the injury.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, however, said the 29-year-old Messam’s experience and physicality had swung selection in his favour to help combat a Vermuelen, Alberts and Louw.

Inside centre Ma’a Nonu has also returned to the side after he missed the victory over Argentina to rest an ankle injury he had played with in the first two matches against Australia.

Francis Saili, who made his test debut last week in place of Nonu, has dropped out of the matchday 23 altogether.

Tighthead prop Owen Franks has also returned after a groin injury, with Charlie Faumuina dropping to the bench.

McCaw will be replaced by Sam Cane.

Dane Coles has also been brought into the starting side in place of Andrew Hore

Australia dropped scrumhalf Will Genia to the bench for this weekend’s match against Argentina as the Wallabies seek to snap a four-match losing streak.