I'm a writer blogger who has been resident in the Hutt Valley since the late 1960's. I'm a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I have seen many people come and go over the years, seen many things good and bad. Time to remember whanau
The NZ All Blacks have flown to Johannesburg for their second round Rugby Championship game against SA Springboks at Ellis Park. Australia, who narrowly beat South Africa late in the second half last week, also at Johannesburg, fly to Mendoza in Argentina for their game against Los Pumas. NZ decisively defeated Argentina 39-18 last weekend.
Last year at Ellis Park, a monster last-minute penalty goal by replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie earned the Springboks a rare recent victory over the All Blacks.
Despite having home advantage and the backing of most in an expected sell-out 62,000 crowd, the Springboks start as underdogs in the Rugby Championship second-round showdown.
They are not expected to beat a red-hot New Zealand All Blacks side this year, but always expect the unexpected in the wonderful international game of rugby.
With the southern hemisphere tournament having been trimmed from six rounds to three because the World Cup kicks off on September 18 in England, the All Blacks could clinch a fourth consecutive title this weekend. The earned a full five points with their bonus point win against Los Pumas last week.
With the title in sight, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also wants to make sure his players, especially the rookies, are ready to defend the Webb Ellis Cup later in the year. Two players will have their test debuts this weekend.
Much improved Hurricanes lock, James Broadhurst, and star Highlanders pivot Lima Sopoaga make their starts on debut.
New Zealand's 31-man squad:
Forwards: Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Tony Woodcock, James Broadhurst, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Victor Vito
Backs: Andy Ellis, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith