Australia leads the tournament, with South Africa hot on their heels, after the opening round of the 2022 Rugby Championship.
Australia will be without mainstay captain Michael Hooper, who has returned to Australia for personal reasons, as well as Quade Cooper who has been ruled out through injury – most likely for a lengthy period and much of the preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
South Africa are strong favourites to beat New Zealand this weekend after last weekend’s performance. Much has been said this week about the pressure that All Blacks coach Ian Foster is under and another loss this weekend could see the NZRU stepping in with some stern action.
Another win this weekend for South Africa will put them in a strong position for this year’s title.
The All Blacks have a 35% win-record at Ellis Park since 1928, winning five of 14 Tests played at the famous old ground. New Zealand’s record in the professional era is better, winning three matches from seven games played.
Rugby Championship Rd.2 South Africa vs New Zealand Preview
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has made several changes to his team for this weekend’s crucial match against the Springboks.
Richie Mo’unga has been handed the number 10 jersey, with Beauden Barrett passing a fitness test but being named on the replacements’ bench.
Props Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax come into the front row, while flanker Shannon Frizell is promoted to the starting line-up for the match.
The All Blacks head into Saturday’s encounter on a run of three successive defeats but Foster is certain they can end their losing run in Johannesburg.
“Belief and confidence remain high in our group, which is working incredibly hard this week,” Foster said.
“Playing at Ellis Park is always a special occasion for any All Blacks team, and this weekend will be no different.”
Meanwhile in the South African camp coach Jacques Nienaber has made five changes to the side that won last week.
Hooker Joseph Dweba and prop Ox Nche make their way into the front row, where Frans Malherbe will win his 50th cap. Notably, there is a return for Duane Vermeulen at number eight.
In the backline, Jaden Hendrikse starts in place of Faf de Klerk at scrum-half, who went off in the first minute last week. Jesse Kriel gets the nod on the right wing in place of Kurt-Lee Arendse who has been suspended for four weeks.
Matches played: 102
Won by South Africa: 38
Won by New Zealand: 60
Played in South Africa: 52
Matches played in South Africa and won by South Africa: 27
Match: South Africa v New Zealand
Date: Saturday 13 August
Venue: Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 12:05 ARG/17:05 RSA/ 01:05 AUS [Sun]/03:05 NZ [Sun]
Referee: Luke Pearce [ENG]
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner [AUS]
Assistant Ref 2: Christophe Ridley [ENG]
TMO: Brett Cronan [AUS]
Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Jaden Hendrikse, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Kwagga Smith, Hershel Jantjies, Willie le Roux
Jordie Barrett; Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Caleb Clarke; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell; Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock; Tyrel Lomax, Samson Taukei’aho, Ethan de Groot
Replacements: Codie Taylor, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Tupou Vaa’i, Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Quinn Tupaea
Rugby Championship Rd.2 Argentina vs Australia Preview
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has made four changes to the starting side as the Wallabies look for back-to-back wins against Argentina away from home.
Waratahs midfielder Lalakai Foketi has earned his first run-on at the International level, where he’ll start at the inside centre, partnering the fleet-footed Len Ikitau in the centres.
There are also two changes in the front row with Taniela Tupou set to start at tighthead prop, joining hooker Lochlan Lonergan after Folau Fainga’a was ruled out of the Test with a concussion late on Friday.
Billy Pollard will make his Test debut off the bench. Test centurion James Slipper will lead the side as the loosehead prop in the absence of Michael Hooper.
The backrow remains unchanged. Last week’s debutant Jed Holloway will start at blindside flanker alongside Reds stalwart Fraser McReight at openside and Rob Valetini at number eight.
Jordan Petaia will again line up on the right wing, with powerhouse Marika Koroibete on the left edge. Tom Wright’s impressive first start at fullback rewarded with a second straight week in the number 15 jersey.
James O’Connor is named ahead of Noah Lolesio despite the latter being named in all three tests against England.
O’Connor will wear the number 10 jersey and partner Nic White in the halves.
Towering lock Rory Arnold will make his first appearance in the gold jersey this year, named in the starting second row alongside former Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain for the first time at the Test level.
Argentina head coach Michael Cheika has also made four changes to his starting side following their loss to the Wallabies last weekend.
Wing Juan Imhoff, centre Matias Moroni and scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou come into the side and replace Santiago Cordero, Matias Orlando and Tomas Cubelli in the Pumas’ starting side. Emiliano Boffelli moves from the left wing to the right.
In the forwards, Cheika has named Thomas Gallo at loosehead and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro is moved to the bench. Facundo Isa and Lucio Cinti come into the side but on the bench.
Matches played: 37
Won by Argentina: 6
Won by Australia: 28
Played in Argentina: 17
Matches played in Argentina and won by Argentina: 4
Match: Argentina v Australia
Date: Saturday 13 August
Venue: Estadio Bicentenario, San Juan
Kick-off: 16:10 ARG/21:10 RSA/05:10 AUS [Sun]/07:10 NZ [Sun]
Referee: Karl Dickson [ENG]
Assistant Ref: Mike Adamson [SCO]
Assistant Ref 2: Chris Busby [IRE]
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen [RSA]
Juan Cruz Mallia; Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Juan Imhoff; Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez; Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno; Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya (captain), Thomas Gallo
Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Joel Sclavi, Facundo Isa, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Albornoz, Lucio Cinti
Tom Wright; Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete; James O’Connor, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight; Jed Holloway, Darcy Swain, Rory Arnold; Taniela Tupou, Lachlan Lonergan, James Slipper (captain)
Replacements: Billy Pollard, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Irae Simone, Reece Hodge