The All Blacks have named Highlanders playmaker Lima Sopoaga as their starting number ten to take on the Springboks in Johannesburg this coming Saturday in the Rugby Championship. Along with Sopoaga, lock James Broadhurst will also make his Test debut.
Super Rugby 2015 champion Sopoaga comes in for Dan Carter, while impressive Hurricanes second rower Broadhurst takes over from Luke Romano. Dane Coles moves in the starting hooker role, with Liam Messam at blindside flanker.
Aaron Smith returns to take up that formiddable Highlanders halfback pairing with Sopoaga, while the world-record midfield combo of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith will resume duties together. Ben Smith is named on the right wing, to give Israel Dagg more game time at fifteen.
Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This is a massive Test for us and one the whole group is looking forward to. It doesn’t get much bigger or better than playing South Africa at Ellis Park. Both teams have a massive amount of respect for each other, both on and off the paddock.
New Zealand team | View South Africa’s Team
1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. James Broadhurst, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Richie McCaw (captain), 8. Kieran Read, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 11. Charles Piutau, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Ben Smith, 15. Israel Dagg Replacements: 16. Codie Taylor 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Ben Franks, 19. Samuel Whitelock, 20. Victor Vito, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Beauden Barrett, 23. Malakai Fekitoa
Springboks vs All Blacks points of interest:
- This will be the 90th Test match between the two great rugby rivals, with the All Blacks having won 51, the Springboks 35 with three draws. The last Test between the two sides was again at Ellis Park in last year’s Investec Rugby Championship, with South Africa winning 27-25 that day.
- All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw will play his 140th Test this weekend and become the second most capped player of all time, overtaking George Gregan (139) and one behind Irishman Brian O’Driscoll.
- Kieran Read will play his 75th Test this weekend while the All Blacks second most capped prop, Owen Franks, will rack up his 70th Test.
- The All Blacks have scored 13,985 points in their history and will become the first international side to score 14,000 Test points. Next on the list is France with 12,926 points.
Press Conference with Sopoaga and coach Hansen