Rassie Erasmus may have named a much-changed side from the one that easily beat the Wallabies last week, but it bears a striking resemblance to the team that defeated the All Blacks in Wellington in 2018.
In the buildup to Saturday’s clash, assistant coach Matt Proudfoot has been quick to stress that the 2018 win is in the history books and will have no bearing on the highly anticipated rematch.
That victory was indeed historic as it was the Springboks’ first win over New Zealand since 2009 and also the first time South Africa had emerged victorious at the Cake Tin.
While Proudfoot might want to keep the past in the past, the 2019 team bears many similarities to the one that matched up to the All Blacks last year.
At fullback, Willie le Roux lines up once more in the No 15 jersey, while the centre combination and halfback pairing is the same. In 2018, Jesse Kriel started on the wing, but now makes way for 2018 reserve Cheslin Kolbe, with Makazole Mapimpi starting in the absence of the injured Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Pieter-Steph du Toit may be the only back-rower to keep his place but, again, it is injuries (Warren Whitely and Siya Kolisi) that have brought a change with Duane Vermeulen and bolter Kwagga Smith coming into the starting lineup.
If the platform for victory is to be laid up front, as the cliche dictates, then the Boks are on to something with the same tight five ready for action.
Off the bench, Trevor Nyakane is the only player who wasn’t able to celebrate last year’s triumph, while Ross Cronjé is now completely out of the Springbok picture, with Herschel Jantjies suddenly emerging as the Boks’ backup scrumhalf.
Frans Steyn is the other new addition to the match-day 23 and he comes in for last week’s starter Elton Jantjies.
The Boks will face the All Blacks in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Westpac Stadium on Saturday at 9:35am (SA time).
Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Image