Friday October 5, 2012
All Blacks make two changes for Springbok test
JOHANNESBURG: Champions New Zealand have made two changes from the team that swamped Argentina last weekend for a Rugby Championship final round showdown with South Africa in Soweto tomorrow.
Hosea Gear is recalled on the left wing in place of Julian Savea, who scored two of the seven All Blacks tries in the 54-15 whipping of the Pumas in La Plata, and Brodie Retallick replaces Luke Romano at lock.
Romano is included among the seven replacements, but there is no room for Savea on a bench that shows three changes from that chosen for the Argentina match.
In come prop Ben Franks, loose forward Adam Thompson and utility back Tamati Ellison while Charlie Faumuina, Sam Cane and Ben Smith are rested and Romano takes the place vacated by Retallick.
Flank and captain Richie McCaw is the most capped player among the starting line-up with 110 followed by fly-half Dan Carter and loosehead prop Tony Woodcock with 90 each.
Hooker Andrew Hore (70) and centres Conrad Smith (61) and Ma’a Nonu (71) are other senior members of the team on a 15-match winning streak while Retallick and scrum-half Aaron Smith (eight each) are the ‘babes’.
“We are in no doubt how big the challenge is for the team this weekend, but it is one we are looking forward to as it will be a real test of our resolve and character,” said coach Steve Hansen.
“South Africa are coming off a big win against Australia and will be playing in front of their home crowd in Soweto so it is going to be huge Test,” added the successor to 2011 World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry.
The Springboks were the last team to conquer the All Blacks – winning 18-5 in a pre-World Cup Test last August – but the visitors have only fond memories of the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium on the outskirts of Soweto.
They spoilt the 100-cap celebrations of then South Africa skipper and hooker John Smit by winning 29-22 two years ago before a capacity crowd through late tries from McCaw and full-back Israel Dagg.
New Zealand won the latest episode in one of the great rugby union rivalries 21-11 in Dunedin last month, thanks in no small part to woeful Springbok place kicking.
The traditionally hyper accurate South Africans missed seven of nine shots at goal with since deposed fly-half Morne Steyn fluffing four, centre Francois Steyn two and new playmaker Johan Goosen one. — AFP