Richie McCaw returns to captain New Zealand for their titanic clash with South Africa in Johannesburg this weekend. Sam Cane drops to the bench at the expense of Jeremy Thrush. The only other change to the team comes in the shape of tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina, who starts in place of the injured Owen Franks. Dane Coles is back on the bench, with Kevin Mealamu dropping out of the squad.
“Playing the Springboks at Ellis Park is a challenge that this team is really looking forward to and one we are very excited about,” said head coach Steve Hansen.
“We know the South Africans will come at us with their physical game but to win the Championship they will have to do that by scoring four tries so we are expecting more ball movement than we have seen in the past. So the answer is pretty simple for us – we will have to match their physicality and be very accurate with our execution across the park, both on attack and defensively.”
New Zealand team to play South Africa, Johannesburg, KO 17.00 (local time):
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau