New Zealand could put the seal on another highly successful Rugby Championship campaign by increasing their cushion over England at the top of the World Rugby Rankings to 5.54 points.
Steve Hansen’s unbeaten side, who wrapped up their fifth title under the current Rugby Championship format after South Africa could only draw with Australia last weekend, stand to gain 0.47 of a rating point – moving them up to 95.68 points – if they come away from Newlands in Cape Town with a win by more than 15 points. On their last visit to the iconic ground in 2008, they won 19-0.
A smaller margin of victory would still see them pick up just over three tenths to increase their advantage over England to 5.38 points.
As expected, the five All Blacks who came to South Africa early have all been named in the match-day 23 by Hansen.
Sam Whitelock (pictured) returns to the second-row alongside Scott Barrett, Liam Squire and Sam Cane line up on the flanks, with Matt Todd dropping to the bench. In the backline, Ryan Crotty returns at centre and Nehe Milner-Skudder on the right wing.
PROP TAKES TO THE BIG STAGE
For South Africa, Lood de Jager has earned a well-deserved start, while Pieter-Steph du Toit moves from second-row to blindside flank to give the Springboks more lineout options.
In another change to the loose trio, Francois Louw will run out at number eight in place of the injured Uzair Cassiem, while there is also a first test start for Steven Kitshoff, who comes into the side as replacement for stalwart prop Tendai Mtawarira.
Kitshoff has played a record 18 matches off the bench in his position behind Mtawarira, the most-capped Springbok prop of all time with 95 tests who is unavailable for the match because of family reasons.
With Kitshoff earning his first start in the Springbok jersey, Wilco Louw has been drafted onto the bench. The former Junior Springbok and South Africa A prop is the only uncapped player in the squad.
In both of their last two meetings, South Africa have shipped 57 points to the All Blacks but, if they were able to turn the formbook upside down and pick up a precious victory on home soil, it would lift them back above Ireland into third in the rankings.
WALLABIES OPT FOR CONTINUITY
Michael Cheika has named an unchanged starting team for the first time in three years as Wallabies coach for Saturday's fixture against Argentina in Mendoza.
A win for Australia may be enough for them to leapfrog South Africa in both the Rugby Championship standings and the World Rugby Rankings.
If combined with a defeat for the Springboks, a win of more than 15 points would earn them 0.93 of a rating point and take them on to 85.59 points overall – two-tenths more than Ireland in fourth, while South Africa would fall to fifth.
Three points still separate the sides in the Rugby Championship table following last weekend's 27-27 draw in Bloemfontein, the second stalemate between the two sides in the space of three weeks. So, second place in the Rugby Championship is also on the line.
LOS PUMAS SEEK HOME COMFORTS
Coach Daniel Hourcade has made four changes to his squad in a bid to revive Los Pumas’ fortunes as they seek their first points of the campaign. Martin Landajo comes in at scrum-half for the injured Tomas Cubelli with Gonzalo Bertranou providing back-up on the bench.
Meanwhile, it is all change in the second-row as Matias Alemanno and Marcos Kremer replace Tomas Lavanini and Guido Petti.
A run of one win in eight tests in 2017 has seen Los Pumas slip to 10th in the rankings, a position they cannot improve upon unless they win by more than 15 points. Such a margin of victory would earn them just over two points, enough to edge them ahead of both Wales and France and into eighth place.
Away from the Rugby Championship, Lima hosts the only other match to carry rating points this weekend as hosts Peru take on Colombia in the South American B Championship. Colombia, the defending champions, start the match as strong favourites as 35 places and more than 11 points separate the two teams in the rankings.
If Peru, ranked 79th, were able to repeat their last victory against Los Tucanes in 2013, they would jump nine places to 70th. Colombia would drop six places from 44th to 50th with Malta, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Madagascar, Guyana and Latvia the beneficiaries.
Colombia, if they can make it four wins on the spin against Peru, stand to gain 0.28 of a point and two places at most.
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