All Blacks shuffle backs for Springboks showdown

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·2-min read
New Zealand's Sevu Reece has earned a recall for this weekend (AFP/Patrick HAMILTON)
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All Blacks coach Ian Foster has tweaked his backline for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against South Africa after his wingers struggled against the high ball last week.

George Bridge and Will Jordan paid the price for nervy displays out wide in the face of a Springbok aerial bombardment during last week's tight 19-17 win over the South Africans.

Foster instead recalled Sevu Reece on the right wing and shifted Rieko Ioane to the left, making room in the centres for Anton Lienert-Brown's return from injury.

The only other major change to the starting XV for the sixth-round match on Australia's Gold Coast was Brad Weber replacing TJ Perenara at scrum-half.

Fly-half Beauden Barrett retains his spot ahead of star pivot Richie Mo'unga, who rejoined the squad this week after a spell in quarantine after a delayed departure from New Zealand for the birth of a baby.

The forward pack was untouched with Ardie Savea again appointed captain.

Foster said energy levels were high among the All Blacks, who claimed the Rugby Championship title last week and remain undefeated in this year's tournament.

"The fact that we now have the chance to achieve a potential Grand Slam against our southern hemisphere opponents is pretty special... it has already given this weekend's Test an edge," he said.

Foster said the New Zealanders, who also regained the world number one ranking during this year's Rugby Championship, wanted to make amends for some uncharacteristic mistakes last week.

"We didn't look after the ball as well as we could have and some of our work at the ruck wasn't as good as we wanted," he said.

"We have to lift our performance in that area and the team is keen to get that right this weekend."

New Zealand (15-1):

Jordie Barrett; Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Brad Weber; Luke Jacobson, Ardie Savea (capt), Akira Ioane; Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick; Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo'unga, Damian McKenzie.

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