All Blacks Name Strong Side In Quest For Redemption Against Springboks

Although the New Zealand All Blacks have already lifted the Rugby Championship Trophy as they took the 2018 title following their victory against Argentina in Buenos Aires last week, there is still one match to go for the season.

This weekend the All Blacks will face up to their age-old rivals in Pretoria, South Africa, as they take on the Springboks side for the second time this year, and they’ll be out for blood. Just three weeks ago, the Kiwi side was defeated by the South African side, in a shocking 34-36 encounter in Wellington, New Zealand, something the side is relatively unfamiliar with.

Determined not to taste the bitter pill of defeat again, NZ Herald reports All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named a formidable side for their clash.

The team has made four changes from the outfit that beat Argentina 35-17 at the weekend. Captain Kieran Read returns to the starting 15, while Jack Goodhue has been named in the starting lineup, pairing Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield. Ryan Crotty drops back to the bench for this encounter. Aaron Smith will also be taking control of the game from the scrumhalf position, replacing TJ Perenara.

Up front, Owen Franks has been named at tighthead, with Ofa Tu’ungafasi relegated to the bench.

Explaining Goodhue’s selection, Hansen expressed his admiration of the 23-year-old center and the form he has been in of late for the side.

“He’s playing well; not to say that Ryan’s not, but we want to see that combination of him and Sonny,” coach Steve Hansen said. “We last saw it in the French series. All year we’ve been trying to work out what’s our best combination in that area for the future and this is an opportunity to do that.”

In the meantime, fullback Damian McKenzie has not been named in the side after he was forced to travel home from Argentina for a family emergency. Hansen decided not to add to McKenzie’s woes by adding another test match to his plate.

Per TVNZ, Hansen is expecting the Springboks to be out in full force, as Loftus Versfeld, the Pretoria stadium, is a happy hunting ground for the home side.

“Test matches between the All Blacks and Springboks are always intense and dramatic contests, and we expect this weekend will be no different. Nothing changes for us. It’s a Test match that everyone in New Zealand expects us to win. The fact that it’s an All Blacks-Springboks Test match makes it even more exciting and it’s one that we’re really looking forward to. South Africa are playing with a lot of confidence and after their two recent wins, their confidence levels will be even higher. So we’ll need to respond with real purpose, composure, belief and intensity.”

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is expected to announce the Springbok side for the clash later today.

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