"Big Changes" All Blacks Name Side For Springboks Clash in Rugby Championship - Ruck

“Big Changes” All Blacks Name Side For Springboks Clash in Rugby Championship

A seismic clash is set to take place in New Zealand this weekend, as the All Blacks take on the Springboks in round two of the 2023 Rugby Championship.

Both sides are riding waves of immense momentum following their opening round victories, as New Zealand and South Africa each scored over 40 points in one sided triumphs. Despite fielding what Australia Head Coach Eddie Jones called a ‘half-baked’ Springboks side, South Africa decimated the Wallabies with a 43-12 landslide win.

New Zealand followed suit later in the day, as they marked their first match in Argentina since 2019 with a similarly emphatic 41-12 score-line. The previously troublesome Pumas had beaten New Zealand twice in the past three Rugby Championship competitions, yet they raised no concerns for the All Blacks last weekend in Mendoza.

As Springboks Head Coach Jacques Nienaber named his ‘A Team’ for the clash with the All Blacks, New Zealand selectors Ian Foster, Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt have named significant changes in their team. Five players are set to take the field for the first time in 2023, as Brodie Retallick, Mark Telea, Samisoni Taukei’aho and Will Jordan make their long-awaited returns.

Crusaders prop Tamaiti Williams has also been selected in the match-day 23, with hopes of making his All Blacks debut. After an impressive Super Rugby campaign, Williams was instrumental in bolstering the pack for the Christchurch side’s seventh consecutive Super Rugby (and Super Rugby Aotearoa) title.

Should Williams run out in Auckland’s Go Media Stadium, the 22-year-old will become All Black 1209. Born in Whangarei with roots in Kaeo, Williams could also become just the fifth Northland-born All Black in the last two decades.

“Any Test against South Africa is a special occasion,” said Foster to the All Blacks website. “There is a lot of respect between the two nations and that usually translates to an epic battle on the field.

“This will be a significant challenge and we are determined to grow after a solid start to the Rugby Championship in Argentina last week. It has been four years since we last played South Africa here in New Zealand so that also makes it special.”

There are three additional player milestones also set for the Springboks showdown, beginning with the Barrett brothers. Beauden, Jordie and Scott are all lining up against the ‘Boks, with Jordie making his 50th All Blacks test cap in the centre, and Scott packing down the second row for his 200th appearance.

Winger Caleb Clarke is also hoping to make his 100th All Blacks cap. The Auckland winger will begin on the bench in his home-club city, with Blues flyer Telea preferred to start.

“The fact that this game sold out over a month ago shows that fans are clearly up for it,” added Foster. “I’ve been told that we’re expecting over 31,000 fans which means a lot to us.”

Both sides have made significant changes heading into round two, with Jacques Nienaber undoubtedly selecting his stronger Springboks ‘A-team’. 10 members of the 2019 Rugby World Cup winning squad make their Springboks return to clash with the All Blacks, after they were tactically rested for the Wallabies walkover.

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa during the Autumn Nations Match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on 20 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

After acclimatising and overcoming the jet lag, nine of the ten will start against the All Blacks, including locks Etzebeth and Lood de Jager and back-rowers Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese.

In the backline, wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe also start, along with World-Cup winning centre partnership of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am. Hooker Malcolm Marx also travelled to New Zealand in advance, and will be on the bench for this richter-scale collision.

All Blacks Squad vs South Africa (Test caps in brackets)

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores his sides second try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on October 24, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Bardens – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

1. Ethan de Groot (14)
2. Codie Taylor (77)
3. Tyrel Lomax (24)
4. Brodie Retallick (100)
5. Scott Barrett (59) 
6. Shannon Frizell (26)
7. Sam Cane (captain – 87)
8. Ardie Savea (71)
9. Aaron Smith (115)
10. Richie Mo’unga (45)
11. Mark Telea (2)
12. Jordie Barrett (49)
13. Rieko Ioane (60)
14. Will Jordan (21)
15. Beauden Barrett (113)

16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (21)
17. Tamaiti Williams * (Uncapped)
18. Nepo Laulala (46)
19. Tupou Vaa’i (19)
20. Dalton Papali’i (23)
21. Finlay Christie (15)
22. Braydon Ennor (7)
23. Caleb Clarke (16)