Rugby World Cup: New Zealand pick Beauden Barrett at 15 to face South Africa

Beuden Barrett
Barrett, pictured scoring against Australia, is a two-time World Player of the Year
2019 Rugby World Cup: New Zealand v South Africa
Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama Date: Saturday, 21 September Kick-off: 10:45 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website and app and live on ITV

Beauden Barrett will start at full-back as New Zealand begin their attempt to win a third straight World Cup against South Africa on Saturday.

Coach Steven Hansen has opted for Crusaders' Richie Mo'unga at fly-half, with inexperienced wings George Bridge and Sevu Reece also in the XV.

Only five of Barrett's previous 48 All Black starts have come at 15.

Siya Kolisi leads a South Africa team with a back three of Cheslin Kolbe, Makazole Mapimpi and Willie le Roux.

Gloucester's Franco Mostert forms the second row with Eben Etzebeth.

Coach Rassie Erasmus said the line-up, which beat Japan 41-7 in their final warm-up, was his "best side".

New Zealand and South Africa, favourites and second-favourites to win the tournament respectively, have met three times over the past 12 months, each securing narrow victories before July's 16-16 draw in Wellington.

Both teams have been preparing for wet and humid conditions in Yokohama, with rain forecast just before kick-off and temperatures expected to be over 20C.

"It's going to be a massive challenge with the rain they're predicting. Everyone's talking about the slippery ball and the wetness. Kicking is going to play a big part," said Erasmus.

The South Africa coach had suggested earlier in the week that New Zealand's recent dominance of the international game meant referees gave them preferential treatment.

Rassie Erasmus
Erasmus has been accused of trying to sway the match officials with his comments

However, All Black counterpart Steve Hansen said his comments were a transparent attempt to sway French official Jerome Garces, who has sent off Scott Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams while in All Black action over the past couple of years.

"Whilst I have a lot of respect for South Africa and Rassie, I don't agree with what he's doing," said Hansen.

"He's trying to put pressure on the referees externally, and they are under enough pressure already. They don't need coaches to be doing what he's doing."

Teams

New Zealand: B Barrett; Reece, Lienert-Brown, Crotty, Bridge; Mo'unga, Smith; Moody, Coles, Laulala, Whitelock, S Barrett, Savea, Cane, Read (c).

Replacements: Taylor, Tu'ungafasi, Ta'avao, Tuipulotu, Frizell, Perenara, Williams, Smith.

South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Marx, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (c), Du Toit, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Mbonambi, Mtawarira, Nyakane, Snyman, Louw, H Jantjies, Steyn, Kriel.

What they said

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen: "Any combination of players in our squad could have justified their selection. But in the end we believe the 23 we have selected is the right group for this opposition.

"To perform at our very best, we'll have to play with real clarity, intent, energy and clear heads. Both teams will have their moments and it'll be our job to ensure we limit theirs and take full opportunity of ours."

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus: "You couldn't say there is a favourite. I think we have a healthy respect for each other's capabilities but it will come down to a small moment to decide a big game in the end," the coach said.

"Our job is to focus on executing our plan and our skills to the best of our ability and hope that that is enough to overcome a New Zealand team that will be doing exactly the same."

Stats

  • New Zealand have won 16 of their last 20 games against South Africa; each of their last four meetings have been decided by a margin of no greater than two points, including a 16-16 draw in their most recent clash.
  • New Zealand have won their last 14 Rugby World Cup games on the trot, the longest winning run by any side in the tournament's history, with those victories coming by an average margin of 30 points.
  • New Zealand have scored at least one try in each of their last 26 Rugby World Cup matches, the longest such run by any team in the tournament - the All Blacks last failed to cross the try line in a Rugby World Cup match back in 1999 against South Africa.
  • Beauden Barrett (New Zealand) beat the most defenders (16) of any player in The Rugby Championship 2019, his 47 carries for 202 metres gained were also the second most of any player in both categories.
  • Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa) made the most tackles (36) of any player in The Rugby Championship 2019, he also made the most clean breaks (5) of any forward in the campaign.

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