All Blacks head coach Ian Foster says the fact that they have not faced the Springboks since 2019 and that it will be the 100th Test makes Saturday’s clash even more special.
The All Blacks currently top the Rugby Championship log with 20 points, with the Springboks on 10, after winning two of their four matches to date.
The two teams will clash on Saturday for the first time since they faced off in the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Saturday’s match will also be the 100th Test between the Springboks and All Blacks.
While the Springbok camp has downplayed the occasion this week, New Zealand coach Foster took the opposite approach after announcing his team on Thursday.
“This has got a bit of a legacy moment about it – 100 tests and 100 years,” Foster conceded. “That’s certainly made it a bit special, and also the fact we haven’t played South Africa for a couple of years and have got a bunch of players really keen to measure themselves.
“It feels to us that the whole country is really excited about playing South Africa again, and that’s a mark of respect for them. We’re no different, we’ve had our eye on this and we’re well positioned. We’re now going to measure ourselves against a team that’s going to play a different game and we’re excited by that.”
After naming a second-string side to face Argentina this past weekend, the All Blacks are back at full strength for this weekend’s Test.
Ardie Savea will captain a team with TJ Perenara starting at scrumhalf, while George Bridge and Will Jordan are on the wings.
Foster explained why Sevu Reece, who has been in good form, had missed out on making the cut.
“We felt that aerially the other two [wings] were slightly ahead in terms of being a bit taller and we are expecting an aerial battle. It came down to that small margin.”
He added that Perenara was an easy choice to replace incumbent Aaron Smith, who is in New Zealand on paternity leave.
“He went away, we gave him a focus, and he’s on top of his game at the moment. His last two Tests have been high quality.”
Foster also said that experience factored into his selection criteria.
“When you look at form, and at things we need do in the game and how we need to counter them, that’s the No 1 criteria. But certainly players’ experience to deal with what will be a big occasion is another one.”
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