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Formidable All Blacks side named for historic Springboks test

By Tom Vinicombe
Ethan Blackadder, Nepo Laulala, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii and Joe Moody. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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After rolling out 11 changes to the run-on side last weekend, the All Blacks have reverted to their top line-up for their 100th match with the Springboks.

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Saturday’s game marks the first time the two rival nations have clashed since the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and despite South Africa going down in their past two back-to-back tests with Australia, head coach Ian Foster is taking no chances and has selected a largely first-choice side.

In the front row, Joe Moody retains his spot in the No 1 jersey after making his first start of the year in last week’s win over the Pumas. He’ll be joined by hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead prop Nepo Laulala to form a formidable trio at the front of the scrum.

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Samisoni Taukei’aho’s fast rise continues with the young hooker given bench duties for the weekend, alongside Karl Tu’inukuafe and Ofa Tuungafasi, who will line up for just his second game of the international season.

Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett return to the starting lineup after last featuring as a combo in the third Bledisloe Cup match, three weekends prior, with the experienced Patrick Tuipulotu fighting off 21-year-old Tupou Vaa’i for a spot in the reserves.

Perhaps the only selection surprise comes in the loose forwards, with Dalton Papalii’s ongoing unavailability seeing captain Ardie Savea retain his place on the openside flank from last week’s victory and Luke Jacobson handed the No 8 jersey. Akira Ioane rounds out the starting trio while Ethan Blackadder covers the back row on the bench.

TJ Perenara has again been preferred ahead of Brad Weber in the key halfback role, while Beauden Barrett unsurprisingly slots in at first five after riding the pine against Argentina. Weber is joined by Chiefs teammate Damian McKenzie to cover the inside backs from the reserves.

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David Havili will partner Rieko Ioane in the midfield with Anton Lienert-Brown still unavailable through injury while the outside backs from the win against the Pumas have been retained, with the aerial games of George Bridge, Will Jordan and Jordie Barrett likely to be key in the clash with the Springboks. That leaves Quinn Tupaea to inject himself late in the game in the No 23 jersey.

Altogether, coach Foster has made eight changes to the starting line-up after last weekend’s 36-13 win in Brisbane.

The All Blacks are yet to taste defeat in 2021 and on the back of their eight straight victories, have pipped the Springboks to take top spot on the World Rugby rankings.

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The Springboks, meanwhile, have suffered three defeats through the season, the first in the opening test of the British and Irish Lions series, before going down in successive matches to the Wallabies.

Although South Africa showed signs last weekend that they were interested in moving towards a more expansive style of play, the safe money is on the Springboks doubling down on the tactics that won them the World Cup in 2019, and the Lions series earlier this year. The All Blacks, on the other hand, will undoubtedly continue to play their high-tempo style of rugby which has worked so well for them throughout 2021.

All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Luke Jacobson, Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Quinn Tupaea.

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Formidable All Blacks side named for historic Springboks test

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