Brad Weber. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
All Blacks coach Ian Foster has tweaked his backline for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against South Africa after his wingers struggled against the high ball last week.
George Bridge and Will Jordan paid the price for nervy displays out wide in the face of a Springbok aerial bombardment during last week’s tight 19-17 win over the South Africans.
Foster instead recalled Sevu Reece on the right wing and shifted Rieko Ioane to the left, making room in the centres for Anton Lienert-Brown’s return from injury.
The only other major change to the starting XV for the sixth-round match on Australia’s Gold Coast was Brad Weber replacing TJ Perenara at scrumhalf.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett retains his spot ahead of star pivot Richie Mo’unga, who re-joined the squad this week after a spell in quarantine after a delayed departure from New Zealand for the birth of a baby.
The forward pack was untouched with Ardie Savea again appointed captain.
Foster said energy levels were high among the All Blacks, who claimed the Rugby Championship title last week and remain undefeated in this year’s tournament.
“The fact that we now have the chance to achieve a potential Grand Slam against our southern hemisphere opponents is pretty special… it has already given this weekend’s Test an edge,” he said.
Foster said the New Zealanders, who also regained the world number one ranking during this year’s Rugby Championship, wanted to make amends for some uncharacteristic mistakes last week.
“We didn’t look after the ball as well as we could have and some of our work at the ruck wasn’t as good as we wanted,” he said.
“We have to lift our performance in that area and the team is keen to get that right this weekend.”
Saturday’s Test kicks off at 12:05 (SA time).
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 George Bower, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Damian McKenzie
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 (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn