The Rugby Championship

Read wary of 'wounded' Springboks

Kieran Read expects a "wounded" South Africa side to pose a threat to New Zealand's perfect start in the Rugby Championship at AMI Stadium on Saturday.

The Springboks were beaten 23-17 by struggling Australia last weekend after they were also consigned to defeat by Argentina in Salta.

Coach Allister Coetzee must now take his out-of-sorts team to Christchurch to face the might of the world champions, who have won all three of their matches in the competition at a canter.

All Blacks captain Read knows South Africa will be smarting from consecutive defeats and does not envisage his players having things all their own way.

"We know how tough the Springboks team is," Read said. 

"Even a wounded team that has come off a couple of losses, they will be doing everything they can to turn up so it's a big test for us."

He added: "Our start is pretty important. We don't really want to be focusing too much on them but if we can get a start in terms of our physicality and intensity in our own play, the scoreboard does funny things to teams.

"If we can get a lead obviously that helps, but we know it will take a big effort against the Boks tomorrow night."

Ardie Savea will make his first start for the All Blacks at openside flanker after Sam Cane was ruled out due to a hamstring injury and Read feels the 22-year-old has earned his chance.

"He's been awesome since he's come in over the last couple of months. I think he's pretty excited." said the number eight.

"He hasn't said too much, which is a good sign I think. He's raring to go."

Boks captain Adriaan Strauss meanwhile wants South Africa to be more clinical as they attempt to avoid a third defeat in a row.

"This week the focus was massively on our own execution, what we need to do better and how to execute our plan much better. We want to be more clinical, make less errors and make the right decisions," he said.

"There were really some good moments against Australia, when we played some good rugby.

"But we are not yet the team we want to be, and there's still a lot of hard work that lies ahead. We did put a couple of things in place this week and we realise we need that type of performance where we fire for the full 85 minutes. Hopefully that can be tomorrow.

"Our standards and our own ambitions are the things which are motivating us. We know where we're going and we know that we are not there yet, and that is what we are all working towards."

Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit replaces the injured Lood de Jager, while Vincent Koch also comes into the Springboks side at the expense of Lourens Adriaanse.


Key Opta stats:

- New Zealand have won seven of their last eight games against South Africa, but none of the last four games between these nations have been decided by more than the value of a converted try.
- The All Blacks have won their last 14 games in Christchurch, last losing in the city against Australia in 1998.
- South Africa have played eight games in Christchurch in Test history, winning only twice, and their last victory there came over half a century ago (19-16 v New Zealand in September 1965).
- The Springboks have won 38 per cent of their games against New Zealand (35/91), the best winning record of any nation against the All Blacks.
- The world champions have averaged 41.5 points scored per game so far this year, their highest since averaging 49.5 per game across 12 fixtures in 2007.