It’s a repeat of last week’s fixtures, only now the home teams have swapped. Some new faces appear in the Championship, and some bruised ones wrestle once more in Toronto.
NEW ZEALAND vs AUSTRALIA
Saturday, August 24, 07:35 GMT, Wellington
New cap Tom Taylor has been nominated as the man to steer the black ship as both Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett fell victim to injury last week, with World Cup casualty Colin Slade recalled to the bench. Brodie Retallick comes in at lock replacing Luke Romano, who is out until November with a torn adductor. Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Jeremy Thrush, and Charles Piutau are all called into the reserves. Loosehead Tony Woodock will become the fourth All Black to win 100 test caps, tying Mils Muliaina for third on the all-time list.
Ewen McKenzie has avoided a knee-jerk reaction and made only one change, bringing in Scott Fardy for his first test start to take the place of injured again Hugh McMeniman. Kane Douglas steps up into the match day squad as the only change to the 23.
Losing both Cruden and Barrett are big blows, but ones the All Blacks have conquered before. Taylor couldn’t ask for a better midfield to take some pressure off, and as long as he can execute the game plan he shouldn’t have too many problems. There will be one or two Wallabies looking to seriously up their game, but New Zealand will be motivated to put on a show for their earth-shaken compatriots. All Blacks by 10.
Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea; Tom Taylor, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks; Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock; Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw (capt.), Kieran Read. RES: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Jeremy Thrush, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Colin Slade, Charles Piutau.
Jesse Mogg; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, James O’Connor; Matt To’omua, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander; Rob Simmons, James Horwill (capt.); Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen. RES: Saia Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Liam Gill, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani.
ARGENTINA vs SOUTH AFRICA
Saturday, August 24, 19:10 GMT, Mendoza
Several injuries have prompted five changes to a bedraggled Pumas side. Gone are both locks Manuel Carizza and Patricio Albacete, wing Juan Imhoff, and fullback Juan Martin Hernandez, while Juan Fernandez Lobbe remains on the shelf. Julio Farias Cabello and Mariano Galarza form the second row, and with Horacio Agulla recalled to the wing and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino to fullback.
In better news Marcos Ayerza is fit again and returns at loosehead, with Juan Figallo reverting to his favoured tighthead position. Matias Diaz moves to the bench, where he is joined by Championship debutants Benjamin Macome, Joaquin Tuculet, and star u20 lock Tomas Lavanini.
By contrast Heyneke Meyer has retained the same team with the only change to the squad being at reserve scrumhalf, with Jano Vermaak replacing unavailable Fourie du Preez. Bismarck du Plessis will win his 50th cap when he takes the field.
Argentina can’t possibly play any worse, and the addition of Ayerza will probably help more than the injuries hurt. Expect them to play with considerably more pride, and though they will most certainly come out on the losing end, the scoreboard should be much more flattering this week. Take South Africa by 18.
Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino; Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Felipe Contepomi (capt.), Horacio Agulla; Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo; Marcos Ayerza, Eusebio Guinazu, Juan Figallo; Julio Farias Cabello, Mariano Galarza; Pablo Matera, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Leonardo Senatore. RES: Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Lobo, Matias Diaz, Tomas Lavanini, Benjamin Macome, Tomas Cubelli, Santiago Fernandez, Joaquin Tuculet.
Willie le Roux; Bryan Habana, J.J. Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers (capt.), Bjorn Basson; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Jannie du Plessis; Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger; Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen. RES: Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Jano Vermaak, Patrick Lambie, Jan Serfontein.
CANADA vs UNITED STATES
Saturday, August 24, 23:00 GMT, Toronto
Injuries to Ryan Hamilton and Jamie Cudmore mean Ray Barkwill and Tyler Hotson enter the starting lineup in an otherwise unchanged side. Aaron Flagg and Jon Phelan provide second row cover from the reserves.
Mike Tolkin’s USA have lost Seamus Kelly to injury and Samu Manoa to reported visa issues. On a positive note, Luke Hume’s return to fitness means that Blaine Scully is bumped to fullback, with Chris Wyles moving up to take Kelly’s centre spot. Lineout specialist Brian Doyle takes Manoa’s place at lock, with Derek Asbun summoned to the bench. A poor performance has cost Mike Petri, as his starting scrumhalf spot instead goes to Robbie Shaw.
Similar to Argentina, the Americans couldn’t get much worse than their performance in Charleston. The problem for them is that Canada will be playing in front of a strong home crowd with an 18 point buffer to play with. Though their backline actually looks stronger this week, there’s no reason to expect the kind of miracle turnaround that would be required to get them within shouting distance of that differential, let alone overcome it. Expect the Eagles to play better, but so will Canada, who cruise to a 12 point win and a spot in Pool D of the 2015 World Cup.
James Pritchard; Matt Evans, Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, D.T.H. van der Merwe; Harry Jones, Phil Mack; Andrew Tiedemann, Ray Barkwill, Jason Marshall; Jebb Sinclair, Tyler Hotson; Tyler Ardron, John Moonlight, Aaron Carpenter (capt.). RES: Tom Dolezel, Doug Wooldridge, Aaron Flagg, Jon Phelan, Nanyak Dala, Sean White, Nathan Hirayama, Phil Mackenzie.
Blaine Scully; Takudzwa Ngwenya, Chris Wyles, Andrew Suniula, Luke Hume; Toby L’Estrange, Robbie Shaw; Shawn Pittman, Chris Biller, Eric Fry; Louis Stanfill, Brian Doyle; Scott LaValla, Peter Dahl, Todd Clever (capt.). RES: Zach Fenoglio, Titi Lamositele, Phil Thiel, Cameron Dolan, Derek Asbun, Mike Petri, Folau Niua, Roland Suniula.