In Summary
  • The All Blacks go into the Test with a maximum 15 points from three games while South Africa are second with six points with Australia and Argentina on four.
  • A bonus-point win would seal a third straight title for New Zealand, who have won 15 of the 22 southern hemisphere championships since 1996.
  • Despite the contrasting fortunes of the two sides, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen claimed South Africa, now ranked just seventh in the world, could be considered favourites.

WELLINGTON

The All Blacks are on the verge of wrapping up the Rugby Championship with two games to spare when they face a struggling Springbok side in Wellington on Saturday.

The world champions start as heavy favourites with the once ferocious battles between New Zealand and South Africa becoming a fading memory.

The All Blacks have won 11 of their last 12 encounters, including the last six by an average margin of 23 points.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said South Africa's aim was simply to reduce their error rate and "give it our best shot", while the All Blacks were motivated by the silverware and not the traditional rivalry.

"It's a focus of ours to win this championship and we'd love to do it in four games. We've got that opportunity and hopefully we can perform out there tomorrow," said captain New Zealand captain Kieran Read.

He then struggled to talk up the Springboks, who were once regarded as New Zealand's fiercest rivals but arrive in disarray after two straight defeats and with coach Rassie Erasmus voicing fears he could get the sack.

"Oh, look, I don't know. It is an old foe of ours and each team around the world has its special kind of meanings for us as All Blacks to play against," the diplomatic Read said.

"The South Africans are special in their own way. It's hard to pinpoint."

The All Blacks go into the Test with a maximum 15 points from three games while South Africa are second with six points with Australia and Argentina on four.

Page 1 of 2