All Blacks coach: ‘Focused’ Boks will have been targeting this game

All Blacks coach Ian Foster says he fully expects the Springboks to implement a “ruthless” game based on power and pressure when the two arch-rivals clash on Saturday.

Foster made eight changes to his starting lineup for the Test in Townsville, with a back three of Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan and George Bridge all picked for their athleticism and height in anticipation of an aerial bombardment from the Boks.

As the All Blacks return to their strongest available team, it’s evident that Foster wants the team to be packed with experience and physicality, particularly with the expectation that the Springboks will revert to their traditional DNA.

“I can only plan and expect them to be at their best,” said Foster when asked about the opponent he was expecting to face after back-to-back defeats by Australia.

“We’ve seen signs of that through the Lions series. I know people have used the word dire for that series, but it was a pinnacle event and they won it. The style of the win is probably irrelevant.”

Foster reiterated that there was immense respect for the Springboks, and the occasion of the 100th Test between the teams, with the All Blacks having only just recently edged ahead of South Africa as the No 1-ranked team in the world.

“Their goal will be to be ruthless and clinical. They’re at their best when they play a pressure game against you and when they play a power game against you. That’s not to say they can’t do other things, but that’s when they’re at their best.

“We’re preparing for a South Africa team that’s been targeting this game and will come out with that focus. We’ve got to make sure in those two aspects we win that battle, so it’s a great challenge for us.”

Here is how the teams will line up:

All Blacks – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (c), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.

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Craig Lewis