Australia lead the way in The Rugby Championship 2022 standings by a solitary point from South Africa, but much can change during this weekend’s second round.

Both Argentina, who the Wallabies beat in Mendoza last Saturday and New Zealand, who fell to defeat against the Springboks, will be keen to rebound instantly.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has rung the changes to his side for this weekend’s second test against South Africa, having lost the first 26-10 at Mbombela Stadium.

Props Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax come into the front row, while flanker Shannon Frizell is promoted to the starting line-up for the match at Ellis Park.

Richie Mo’unga, meanwhile, has been handed the number 10 jersey, with Beauden Barrett fit enough for a place on the replacements’ bench.

The All Blacks head into Saturday’s encounter on a run of three successive defeats but Foster is certain they can halt that sequence in Johannesburg.

“Belief and confidence remain high in our group, which is working incredibly hard this week,” Foster said.

“Playing at Ellis Park is always a special occasion for any All Black team, and this weekend will be no different.”

“It certainly won’t be easy”

Injuries have played their part in Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s decision to make five changes to the team that beat the All Blacks last weekend.

Hooker Joseph Dweba and prop Ox Nche come into the front-row, where Frans Malherbe will win his 50th cap, while there is a return for the experienced Duane Vermeulen at number eight.

In the backline, Jaden Hendrikse starts in place of Faf de Klerk at scrum-half, while Jesse Kriel gets the nod on the right wing in place of the suspended Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Former Lions back-row Kwagga Smith has been named among the replacements and will appear in his first test at Ellis Park if called upon from the bench.

Although the Springboks led throughout their win at Mbombela Stadium last Saturday, he expects the All Blacks to provide a tough test this weekend.

“We worked hard for the win against the All Blacks last week, but this is a new game and a new week and we know they are going to present a huge challenge,” Smith said.

“The All Blacks are a top side, and they will play their hearts out.

“It certainly won’t be easy against them. If they create three chances against us and use it, we know what can happen.”

Australian “brotherhood” vital

Australia head into their second test against Argentina in San Juan looking to build on the second-half comeback that secured a 41-26 victory in round one.

Quade Cooper became the latest Wallaby to succumb to injury when he limped off early in the second half in Mendoza, becoming the 20th member of Dave Rennie’s squad to be ruled out through injury or suspension since the beginning of July.

His replacement Reece Hodge helped kick Australia to victory and winger Jordan Petaia says squad morale has pulled the team through some tough spots.

“We have a strong culture here, strong group of men that have built pretty sure strong traits that we follow,” he said.

“It is like a brotherhood where we will put our body on the line for each other, so I think that helps out on the field.”

Hosts Argentina started the 2022 Rugby Championship with a new defence coach in former New Zealand rugby league coach David Kidwell and the second test gives Los Pumas another chance to put his lessons into practice on the pitch.

Kidwell felt his new side did well for an hour in Mendoza before the momentum shifted in Australia’s favour on the back of their 62nd-minute penalty try.

“If you get momentum, it is hard to stop,” he said.

“For 60 minutes we were great and stuck to our game plan and then Australia got on that roll and the momentum changed. They kept rolling and we couldn’t stop it.”