The selection of openside Chris Masoe at No 8 indicates that the All Blacks are considering supremacy at the breakdown as their best chances of winning at Loftus.
Although they were much improved against the Wallabies in Auckland, the New Zealand line-out is no match for South Africa’s. The second stringers do have some some good jumpers in Ali Williams, Greg Rawlinson, Reuben Thorne and of course, Richie McCaw, but without Chris Jack, no-one comes close to Victor Matfield.
Former technical adviser to the Springboks John McFarland told Superrugby’s Morris Gilbert that the line-out should be South Africa’s strength at Loftus Versfeld, just as it was in Wellington.
“New Zealand have had the best scrum in the world for some time, but their line-out work is still not at the same level as that of the Springboks,” said McFarland.
“They know that, and so do the Springboks. Therefore, it will be no surprise if the Springboks target the lineouts, as they did in Wellington, as their primary source of turnover possession.”
The scrums may be more even than everyone suspects, with one of the world’s best tightheads in Greg Somerville packing down against Os Du Randt. Much of the Boks success in this area will depend on whether CJ van der Linde can dominate Neemia Tialata.
In the loose, the inclusion of two fetchers in Masoe and McCaw will favour them greatly in the battle for the ball on the ground. In an attempt to curb this impending dominance, the Bok forwards will look to keep it as tight as possible. Solly Tyibilika has an enormous task of fending off these two All Blacks and his performance on Saturday will be vital to the Bok cause.
While the Springboks will be looking to play a structured game, the All Blacks will be looking to attack from anywhere, and the advantage of having two fetchers increases the chances of quick turnovers and the resulting counterattack can be devastating to the unprepared opposition defence. New Zealand are particularly good at this, and have the finishers in the back three to make the turnovers count on the scoreboard.
“The All Blacks can work wonders with possession from broken play. That is where their tries originated in the Wellington test,” McFarland added.