The future of All Blacks coach Ian Foster will go on the line on Sunday morning (1:05am AEST) as his side takes on the Springboks in South Africa.
Foster survived by the skin of his teeth following his side’s 2-1 series loss to Ireland in July, but two of his assistant coaches were sacked as a result. What’s more, New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson refused to guarantee Foster would lead the rugby powerhouse nation through to next year’s World Cup, instead saying he was the right man to lead the All Blacks to South Africa.
It comes after the All Blacks lost their first home series in 27 years, while also losing four of their past five Tests.
All of the All Blacks are under pressure, including captain Sam Cane who is coming under immense pressure to hold his place in the side.
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Beauden Barrett and Jordie Barrett meanwhile have been picked in the crucial No.10 and No.15 positions, with Crusaders pair Richie Mo’unga on the bench and Will Jordan playing on the wing instead of in his preferred fullback position.
With all the focus on the All Blacks, the Springboks have flown under the radar. But Jacques Nienaber has named a strong squad, with World Cup-winners littered throughout the team.
Interestingly Malcolm Marx starts ahead of Bongi Mbonambi at hooker, while Damian Willemse has been picked in the No.15 jersey with Willie le Roux to come off the bench.
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2019 World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du-Toit has been picked in a strong back-row, featuring captain Siya Kolisi.
The Springboks last month edged out Wales at home, winning the series 2-1.
ALL BLACKS (15-1): Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (c), Akira Ioane, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukeiaho, George Bower
Reserves: Dane Coles, Ethan de Groot, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa’i, Shannon Frizell, Finlay Christie, Richie Mo’unga, Quinn Tupaea
SPRINGBOKS (15-1): Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane
Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Salmaan Moerat, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Jaden Hendrikse, Willie le Roux