The All Blacks and Springboks will continue their great rivalry on Saturday at QBE Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore.
This will be the first time these two teams have played at this ground. With a large South African community on the North Shore, the crowd will be a good mix of All Black and Springbok fans.
Here are some players that will be looking to impress at the weekend, starting with the All Blacks.
3. Beauden Barrett
The All Black fly-half has come under significant scrutiny after his performance against Argentina. Barrett kicked zero goals from three attempts and was yellow-carded. The 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year needs to rediscover the form of last year and will have to deal with the anticipated rush defence by varying his play with attacking kicks behind the defensive line.
His decision-making when wanting to attack wide and his running game will need to be accurate. A better display of goal-kicking will help ease his mind and allow him to dictate play in the 10 jersey.
2. Damian McKenzie
The pint-sized fullback is one of the most courageous and exciting players in world rugby at the moment. This Saturday he will be expecting a number of high kicks to test his aerial skills.
McKenzie struggled in the second half last week and will want to rectify this area of his game. Taking the high balls will ensure he is confident and we will see some of the attacking spark he offers.
1. Kane Hames
The Chiefs loosehead prop gets his first Test match start on Saturday. Hames replaces the injured, in-form Joe Moody. Packing down with fellow Chiefs prop Nepo Laulala will give Hames a familiar partner when looking to scrummage against a big Springbok front row.
Hames will need a similar work rate in general play as Moody has this season shown he suits the All Black game plan. Hames is a highly regarded scrummager and will want to illustrate this on Saturday.
3. Elton Jantjies
Jantijies will be a key figure on Saturday in determining the outcome of this Test match. He will look to attack the All Black defence and exploit holes with his ability to spot a gap and his quick instincts. His goal kicking will be crucial if this Test is close.
Jantjies is currently the leading points scorer in the Rugby Championship with 49 points. The South African fly-half alongside his Lions teammate scrum-half Ross Cronje should look to pepper the All Black back three with some high up and under kicks.
2. Siya Kolisi
There is now extra responsibility on Kolisi with Jaco Kriel being ruled out of this fixture. Kolisi will need to be industrious in making tackles and being disruptive at the breakdown.
The Stormers flanker is having a strong international season and will want to continue this on Saturday. With three tries to his name so far in the competition, the mobile loose forward will want to be running freely in open play to add to this tally.
1. Malcolm Marx
The 23-year-old hooker will relish the chance to play against Dane Coles. This is a match-up between two players who are revolutionising the way a hooker plays. At 119 kilograms, Marx will look to impose himself at scrum time and in general play.
For a big man he is mobile and if he can attack the All Blacks’ smaller players out wide South Africa will get important front foot ball. Marx is an important player for the Springboks in getting over the advantage line with strong ball carries.
All these players will be wanting to have strong games to help contribute to another classic battle between two great rugby nations.
Carlin Crossan, Pundit Arena
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