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Experimentation adds intrigue to Ellis Park showdown

Fierce foes South Africa and New Zealand have opted for experimentation in their Rugby Championship clash.

ll Black centre Ma’a Nonu (Left) and winger Charles Piutau at the New Zealand team announcement for the squad to take on the Springboks in the Rugby Championship Test in Johannesburg. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Fierce foes South Africa and New Zealand have opted for experimentation in their Rugby Championship clash in the cauldron of Ellis Park on Saturday.

South Africa are beset by injuries after losing three more players from the 24-20 loss to Australia in their tournament opener. They have opted for two openside flankers to try and negate the influence of All Black captain Richie McCaw at the breakdown, an area of the game that coach Heyneke Meyer believes will be key.

The selection of Heinrich Brussow after four years out of the side has raised eyebrows, especially as he will be playing alongside another fetcher in Francois Louw."It is a gamble," Meyer said. "You lose a little bit in the lineout but they can cause havoc and I truly believe the game will be won and lost in the breakdowns."

The Springboks will have their third captain in as many matches with number eight Schalk Burger, himself usually a flank, taking over from injured lock Victor Matfield.

New Zealand have a rookie at flyhalf and another new cap in their tight-five in what coach Steve Hansen said is the biggest test his side face in world rugby.

Lima Sopoaga will make his debut in the number 10 jersey, while James Broadhurst finally gets his chance at lock.

"We know we are up against probably the best side in the world playing on their home patch," Hansen told reporters.

"But we are mindful there is a World Cup at the end of the year and we have to select the right 31 players to go to that.

"We know we have to have an experienced side on the park to compete but at the same time you have to be brave enough with selections that allow us to go forward in the future."

He said a "confident" Sopoaga will present a different challenge to the Springboks than the vastly more experienced Dan Carter.

"He is a player that likes to play the game nice and flat and challenges the defensive line. He's also got a good kicking game, he brings plenty."

Broadhurst has improved over the last two seasons and is finally fulfilling his rich promise.

"He's a guy we have been waiting for a long time, but he's 27 now and has filled out that big frame of his," Hansen said.

"We expect him to be physical, he is in the tight-five so it's his responsibility to win us good ball and scrum well. He is also a good ball carrier."

New Zealand beat Argentina 39-18 in their Rugby Championship opener last weekend.

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