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Team News Ahead Of Rugby Championship Opening Weekend

Rugby Championship

The 2019 Rugby Championship kicks off this weekend as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina battle it out over the next few weeks.

This year’s edition is shortened to just three rounds due to the Rugby World Cup beginning in September but it will provide ideal preparation for the competing nations ahead of Japan.

This weekend’s action takes place on Saturday as South Africa host Australia and the All Blacks travel to Buenos Aires to take on Argentina.

Below you will find all the team news ahead of the opening round.

South Africa v Australia

The big news with South Africa’s team announcement is that Ulster’s Marcell Coetzee has been named on the bench. The powerful back-row looks set to earn his 29th cap for the Springboks, his last coming against Argentina in 2015.

Rassie Erasmus has rested a number of his first-choice players as he keeps on eye on next week’s clash with the All Blacks in Wellington.

Eben Etzebeth captains the side in the absence of the injured Siya Kolisi while Herschel Jantjies will make his debut at scrum-half. He will partner Elton Jantjies who starts at out-half. Toulouse flanker Rynhardt Elstadt makes his debut at blindside after impressing for the French club this season.

Rugby Championship

South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 1 Beast Mtawarira, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Francois Louw

Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds

Michael Cheika’s hand has been forced somewhat with regards to his selection due to injuries to Scott Sio, Christian Lealiifano and Tom Robertson.

Isi Naisarani starts at number eight in what will be his Wallabies debut. The powerful back-row will add some strong ball carrying to a Wallaby pack that has been considered light in the past. Samu Kerevi partners Tevita Kuridrani in midfield which means there is no room in the matchday 23 for James O’Connor.

Rugby Championship

Nic White and Bernard Foley form the halfback partnership.

Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper

Replacements: 16-Jordan Uelese, 17-Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Jack Dempsey, 21-Will Genia, 22-Matt To’omua, 23-Kurtley Beale

Argentina v New Zealand

Argentina Team TBC

Steve Hansen has named five uncapped players in his matchday 23 for the All Blacks’ clash with Argentina.

Sevu Reece will make his Test debut on the wing, while the uncapped Atu Moli and new All Blacks Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor are all named on the bench.

There is plenty of experience in the backline despite Reece’s inclusion. Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett form the halfback partnership while Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown start in midfield. Jordie Barrett has been named on the left-wing and Ben Smith takes his place at fullback.

Rugby Championship

The pack includes Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Dane Coles and Brodie Retallick.

All Blacks: Ben Smith, Sevu Reece*, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles, Angus Ta’avao, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaea Fifita, Sam Cane (c), Ardie Savea.

Replacements: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli *, Nepo Laulala, Jackson Hemopo, Luke Jacobson*, Brad Weber, Josh Ioane *, Braydon Ennor *

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter