One hell of a Test match
Boks have every reason to be confident for All Blacks clash
When it comes to the Springboks, it is amazing the difference a year makes.
Allister Coetzee's charges had to drag themselves to Christchurch to man up to the All Blacks and the result was a 41-13 hammering last year and that was followed up by a 57-15 hiding in Durban a few weeks later.
Now, on the back of a six-match unbeaten streak, the Springboks have every reason to be confident ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship date against the All Blacks at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany.
There's the massive weight of expectation and history lingering like a foul smell over the Boks.
They haven't won in New Zealand in eight years and an All Blacks side shorn of its first- choice frontrow and with eight changes from its last encounter is still a formidable entity.
Coetzee wanted to be quietly confident about his team's chances but there's a feeling the All Blacks may be saving their best for their ultimate foes.
"It's great to hear from Steve Hansen and the guys there that they recognise we're a happy team and the fact they've selected their strongest side," said Coetzee.
"That's all good, but it comes down to the 80 minutes on Saturday. There's always been respect between the sides but we are well prepared and we're in for a hell of a Test match," Coetzee said.
All Blacks coach Hansen has had to deal with criticism even though the All Blacks have only lost one game this season.
After galloping to a one-sided and rather flattering 54-34 clouting of Australia on August 19 in Sydney, they had to fight tooth and nail the following week to keep their 16-year unbeaten streak against Australia at home in a tight 35-29 win in Dunedin.
They also had to rely on their superior composure and conditioning to see off a determined Argentina side 39-22 in New Plymouth last week after the Pumas took a 22-15 lead after 50 minutes.
The All Blacks have lost a wealth of front- row experience with the injury-enforced absences of Owen Franks and Joe Moody.
"With the injuries we've had, we've had what I can call an awkward season," Hansen said.
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames.
Reserves: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende.