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Two debutants named in exciting All Blacks team to face South Africa

Lima Sopoaga and James Broadhurst will make their international bows at Ellis Park.

LIMA SOPOAGA AND James Broadhurst will make their debuts for New Zealand in Saturday’s Rugby Championship meeting with South Africa at Ellis Park (Ko 16.05 Irish time).

Lima Sopoaga celebrates winning with Aaron Smith Sopoaga celebrates winning the Super Rugby title this year. Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

Out-half Sopoaga was exceptional during the Highlanders’ run to the Super Rugby title this year, while Broadhurst excelled for beaten finalists the Hurricanes, and now Steve Hansen has handed them their international bows in testing circumstances.

The creative Sopoaga excelled under the guidance of attack coach Tony Brown with the Highlanders this season, as the 24-year-old’s instinctive running ability was rounded out with better decision making and an intelligent short kicking game.

27-year-old second row Broadhurst was incredibly effective as a main ball carrier for the Hurricanes, while getting through the kind of accurate rucking and set-piece work that is expected of All Blacks forwards.

Hansen has made a further change at hooker, with Dane Coles replacing Kevin Mealamu. Meanwhile, Chiefs captain Liam Messam comes in at blindside flanker in place of Jerome Kaino.

In the backline, the world-class Aaron Smith returns at scrum-half, while Sopoaga takes over from Dan Carter in the 10 shirt. With Sonny Bill Williams left out of the squad in order to rest, Conrad Smith partners Ma’a Nonu in the midfield.

Hosea Gear is tackled by James Broadhurst Broadhurst attempts to bring Hosea Gear to ground. Source: Photosport/Grant Down/INPHO

As Israel Dagg continues at fullback, the exceptional Ben Smith comes into the team on the right wing, taking the place of the injured Waisake Naholo. The All Blacks bench is also littered with quality in the likes of Sam Whitelock, Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa.

With South Africa having named a strong XV yesterday, the factors are in place for an explosive fixture in Johannesburg on Saturday.

New Zealand (v South Africa):

15. Israel Dagg
14. Ben Smith
13. Conrad Smith
12. Ma’a Nonu
11. Charles Piutau
10. Lima Sopoaga
9. Aaron Smith

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Dane Coles
3. Owen Franks
4. Brodie Retallick
5. James Broadhurst
6. Liam Messam
7. Richie McCaw (captain)
8. Kieran Read

Replacements:

16. Codie Taylor
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Ben Franks
19. Sam Whitelock
20. Victor Vito
21. TJ Perenara
22. Beauden Barrett
23. Malakai Fekitoa

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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