27 Sep 2014

All Blacks seek to wrap up title

2:50 pm on 27 September 2014

South Africa and Australia both need victory in Sunday's Rugby Championship clash in Cape Town, probably with a bonus point, if they are keep the heat on table-topping New Zealand.

Bryan Habana of the Springboks is tackled by Scott Fardy of the Wallabies. September 2014.

Bryan Habana of the Springboks is tackled by Scott Fardy of the Wallabies. September 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The two teams have 10 points from four games, six behind the defending champion All Blacks who play later in the day in Argentina and can clinch the title with a bonus-point win.

The Boks lost in Australia by a point and in New Zealand by four in their previous two games, agonising defeats that give them plenty of motivation going into the Cape Town fixture.

Coach Heyneke Meyer believes victory, coupled with success at home to the All Blacks, would put a completely different complexion on their whole year whatever happens with the Championship title.

"We were so close to winning three games on the road which has never happened before," Meyer told reporters."

"It's so close for us between a great season and an average season."

"We have to win these next two home games to get the momentum going."

"I'm very happy with the week training-wise and hopefully it's a dry field, we haven't played on a dry field for some time and that will allow us to show what we can do on attack."

Meyer has kept experienced first-five Morne Steyn sidelined in favour of 20-year-old rookie Handre Pollard, while Teboho 'Oupa' Mohaje gets a first start at blindside flanker ahead of World Cup winner Schalk Burger after injuries to Willem Alberts and Francois Louw.

Mohaje was playing in South Africa's amateur Varsity Cup competition at the start of the year and after just a handful of starts in Super Rugby, given to him by injuries to others, he finds himself an international.

"To lose Willem and Francoise is to lose two established players, it's like losing (Richie) McCaw and (Kieran) Read, but we are blessed with loose-forwards in this country," Meyer said.

"Oupa has come on leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year, he was involved in the first camp and I was really impressed with his physicality and athleticism."

"He deserves to start."

Meanwhile The Chiefs hooker Nathan Harris is set to make his All Blacks debut in La Plata after being named on the reserves, while rookie midfielder Malakai Fekitoa will make his just his second start and in the unfamiliar position of second-five.

Beauden Barrett starts at number ten, meaning the All Blacks will start their most inexperienced five-eighths pairing in quite some time.

New Zealand's top loose forward trio though is back together with Jerome Kaino joining Richie McCaw and Kieran Read at the back of the scrum.

Read says it would be nice to wrap up the title a week early, describing it as the ideal outcome.

First-choice Lock Sam Whitelock also rejoins the starting XV for the La Plata clash.

Sam Cane is the only loose forward on the bench.