Both teams understand the importance of making a statement on Saturday. Bock Scrumhalve, fave de Klerk commented, “If you can outperform them, you know you’re in a good position”.
Foster named his 23-man squad on Thursday by making five changes from the squad that beat Argentina at Mendoza, with Richie Muonga returning in the No. 10 jersey.
Arguably the most significant absence is veteran lock Sam Whitelock, who Foster said was fit but was not considered for selection as part of a “long-term strategy”.
Scott Barrett’s form made that decision easier, and like many fights across the park, Barrett and Brody Retalik against Lude de Jager and Eben Itzhebeth – depending on the latter’s availability following his father’s death – will be hotly contested.
It was an area where the two sides took different routes in making up their respective reserves units, with the Boks taking what had become their usual 6-2 split, while the All Blacks went 5-3, front and back.