The All Blacks arrive in Soweto as The Rugby Championship champions, but it is somewhat fitting that with the ultimate symbol of Southern Hemisphere Rugby supremacy in hand, New Zealand still need to play the one team in the one country that has been their greatest rival.
Indeed, it was not until 1996 that the All Blacks broke the ‘final frontier’ and won a test series in South Africa, and despite winning The Rugby Championship, the trophy will lose some shine if they falter in their sixth test, while the Springboks will sign off on a high if they can be the first side to inflict a defeat on the World Champions.
It is a grand finale considering both sides put in perhaps their best respective performances of The Rugby Championship, and the hosts will be positive after 31-8 win broke a sequence of five straight losses to the Wallabies.
Some would say that the inclusion of Free State playmaker Johan Goosen made the difference to the Springboks, although coach Heyneke Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers felt that it was more due to the side was beginning to understand the required game plan.
However while the positive attacking approach yielded results against the Wallabies, the Springboks will face the same dilemma the Pumas faced last week – try to attack the Kings of attacking rugby in the All Blacks, or use historical traits that have worked in the past?
The Pumas strayed away from their reliable defence, but whether or not the Springboks shift from their always impressive physicality, a proven rattler for the All Blacks, will only be answered on the weekend.
For the visitors, their game clicked into gear after threatening to for most of The Rugby Championship, and the return of Dan Carter, coupled with the form of the pack and All Blacks finishers in Cory Jane and Julian Savea, saw the most dominant winning performance of the Championship.
Soweto and ‘Soccer City’ will welcome the two teams for the second time.
In 2010 a crowd of 94,713 – a record for an audited attendance at a rugby match in South Africa – saw South Africa play New Zealand in former captain, John Smit’s 100th Test.
Another potential 100 could be on display this weekend, as All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will look to become the first ever rugby player to bring up 100 test match wins, with the skipper a late try scorer at the ground in his last visit when two late tries gave New Zealand a 29-22 win.
The All Blacks will also look at becoming sixth team to go through a Tri-Nations / The Rugby Championship season unbeaten – joining the 1996, 1997, 2003, 2010 All Blacks and 1998 Springboks.
For the hosts, Francois Steyn has been ruled out for the season, robbing them of a tactical boot that in the past has been useful against the All Blacks.
The Springboks have made only one change to their match day 22, with Coenie Oosthuizen taking over from Pat Cilliers as propping cover on the bench.
With the starting XV the same from last weekend’s victory against the Wallabies, it represents the first time the Springboks have started two consecutive Tests with the run on side since 2009 in the home victories over New Zealand (31-19 in Durban on August 1) and Australia (29-17 in Cape Town on August 8).
The Rugby Championship winners have made two changes to their starting All Blacks side, with lock Brodie Retallick and winger Hosea Gear for Luke Romano and Julian Savea respectively - Romano drops to the bench, while Savea drops out of the 22 altogether.
On the bench, prop Ben Franks, loose forward Adam Thomson and utility back Tamati Ellison replace Charlie Faumuina, Sam Cane and Ben Smith.
6 October 2012
Springboks v All Blacks
FNB Stadium, Soweto
Kick off (1700 local, 1500 GMT, Sun 7 Oct 4:00 NZT, Sun 7 Oct 100 NSW/ACT, 1200 ARG)
Referee: A. Rolland (IRFU)
AR: R. Poite (FFR)
AR: G. Garner (RFU
TMO: S. Veldsman (SARU)
HEAD TO HEAD:
Played 84: South Africa 34, New Zealand 47, Drawn 3
Last match: South Africa 11 - 21 New Zealand @ Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
South Africa record at FNB Stadium: Played 1, Won 0, Lost 1
South Africa record at home: Played 220, Won 151, Lost 56, Drawn 13
New Zealand record at FNB Stadium: Played 1, Won 1, Lost 0
New Zealand record away from home: Played 250, Won 173, Lost 66, Drawn 11
Point’s aggregate: South Africa 1297, New Zealand 1580 (15-19)
Tries aggregate: South Africa 126, New Zealand 164 (2-2)
29 September, 2012: South Africa 31 - 8 Australia (5th round of The Rugby Championship)
15 September, 2012: South Africa 11 - 21 New Zealand (4th round of The Rugby Championship)
8 September, 2012: South Africa 19 – 26 Australia (3rd round of The Rugby Championship)
25 August, 2012: South Africa 16 – 16 Argentina (2nd round of The Rugby Championship)
18 August, 2012: South Africa 27 – 6 Argentina (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: South Africa 14 – 14 England (3rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: South Africa 36 – 27 England (2nd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: South Africa 22 – 17 England (1st test June tour)
29 September, 2012: New Zealand 54 - 15 Argentina (5th round of The Rugby Championship)
15 September, 2012: New Zealand 21 - 11 South Africa (4th round of The Rugby Championship)
8 September, 2012: New Zealand 21 – 5 Argentina (3rd round of The Rugby Championship)
25 August, 2012: New Zealand 22 – 0 Australia (2nd round of The Rugby Championship)
18 August, 2012: New Zealand 27 – 19 Australia (1st round of The Rugby Championship)
23 June, 2012: New Zealand 60 – 0 Ireland (3rd test June tour)
16 June, 2012: New Zealand 22 – 19 Ireland (2nd test June tour)
9 June, 2012: New Zealand 42 – 10 Ireland (1st test June tour)
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Tamati Ellison.