All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has recalled Beauden Barrett at fly-half and restored his big guns to the pack for their Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Townsville on Saturday.
There are eight changes to the mainly second-string starting XV that was fielded against Argentina last week as New Zealand face South Africa for the 100th time.
Chasing 12th Rugby Championship title
The All Blacks will seal a 12th title in the southern hemisphere championship with a match to spare if they secure victory this weekend.
“The whole team is excited at what lies ahead this weekend,” Foster said.
“The group is working hard, we have been building our performances and we’ve put ourselves in a great position to win the Rugby Championship and that’s really exciting for the team.
“The fact that it is against South Africa is pretty special.”
Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick come back into the second-row for the match at North Queensland Stadium in Townsville, while blindside flanker Akira Ioane and number eight Luke Jacobson return to join skipper Ardie Savea in the back-row.
Hooker Codie Taylor will pack down with props Nepo Laulala and Joe Moody in an experienced front-row for what is expected to be a titanic forward battle against the world champions.
Fly-half Barrett has been paired with scrum-half TJ Perenara to lead a backline featuring Rieko Ioane and David Havili in the centres and Will Jordan and George Bridge on the wings.
The third Barrett brother in the side, full-back Jordie, edged out Damian McKenzie to complete a back three which will be expected to deal with a barrage of tactical kicking from the Springboks.
Foster’s selection likely sets up a stark contrast in styles between the All Blacks and Springboks.
The team named on Thursday is equipped to play a fast-paced style while the Springboks will continue to pursue their slow and deliberate game-plan, accentuating kicking and mauling but with little backline adventure.
“For us, as a team, we’re trying to zone in on what we want to do in this game,” said Foster.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (c), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea
Date: Saturday, September 25
Venue: QLD Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Kick-off: 17:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Damon Murphy (Australia)