Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber says they are expecting the All Blacks to push them to the limit when they meet in the opening match of the Rugby Championship on Saturday at the Mbombela Stadium (5.05pm).
Nienaber’s charges are deep in preparation for the two back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks. The Bok head honcho has only faced New Zealand twice during his tenure, winning one match and losing the other.
He has named a strong squad for Saturday’s Test. After assessing the team in last month’s series with Wales, he has now settled on his preferred match 23.
Hooker Malcolm Marx will run out for his 50th cap. He’ll be flanked by Frans Malherbe and Trevor Nyakane in the front row. The second row will feature Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth. Captain Siya Kolisi will be part of the loose trio with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jasper Wiese.
The halfback combination of Faf de Klerk and Handré Pollard is reinstated, while Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am will be in the midfield. Makazole Mapimpi and Kurt-Lee Arendse will be on the wings with the impressive Damian Willemse at fullback.
“The Springboks and All Blacks have a unique rivalry, and we always bring the best out of one another. New Zealand have always tested us to the limit, and it will be no different in the next two weeks,” said Nienaber.
“They will play a different style of rugby to Wales and we have been preparing for that. Their set pieces are strong and they have fantastic skills in their backline, so we’ll have to be at our best to register a win.
“This week our focus is more on New Zealand and the areas of the game that we feel will be vital to give us the best possible chance to start the series on a positive note, and we’ve been working hard on that, and we will continue doing so in the build-up to the match.”