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Richie McCaw and Du Plessis return for the Rugby Championship decider between New Zealand and South Africa

Updated: Wednesday, 02 Oct 2013 17:36 | Comments

Richie McCaw returns to the New Zealand side to face South Africa on Saturday
Richie McCaw returns to the New Zealand side to face South Africa on Saturday

Richie McCaw returns for New Zealand and Bismarck du Plessis for South Africa in the Rugby Championship decider in Johannesburg on Saturday.

All Blacks captain McCaw was restored to team, as expected, in one of two changes to the team.

The other is prop Charlie Faumuina replacing the injured Owen Franks, ruled out of the test at Ellis Park because of a groin injury sustained in Argentina last weekend.

Dan Coles is drafted onto the bench in Faumina's place from the team that beat the Pumas 33-15 at La Plata.

The 32-year-old McCaw has missed the last two internationals because of injury but makes a timely return for what is expected to be a keenly contested battle where his experience at the breakdown could prove decisive.

He had been scheduled to be out for longer after sustaining a knee injury against Argentina early last month but made remarkable progress in training last week and was earmarked for a return by coach Steve Hansen.

McCaw has played three tests since returning from an unusual six-month sabbatical.

World champions New Zealand will successfully defend their Rugby Championship if they stop the Springboks from scoring four tries and winning by more than seven points.

"Playing the Springboks at Ellis Park is a challenge that this team is really looking forward to and one we are very excited about," Hansen said in a statement.

"We know the South Africans will come at us with their physical game but to win the Championship they will have to do that by scoring four tries so we are expecting more ball movement than we have seen in the past.

"So the answer is pretty simple for us - we will have to match their physicality and be very accurate with our execution across the park, both on attack and defensively."

Du Plessis back for the Springboks
Hooker Du Plessis, the central character in last month's controversial test between New Zealand and South Africa, was also restored to the Springbok side.

He was one of two changes announced on Wednesday to the starting line-up for the Rugby Championship decider.

Bismarck du Plessis

Juandre Kruger replaced injured lock Flip van der Merwe and a third change is possible if centre JJ Engelbrecht does not recover from injury in time.

If he does not, Jan Serfontein will get his first start for the Springboks.

Du Plessis was benched for last Saturday's 28-8 win over Australia in Cape Town in what coach Heyenke Meyer said was a pre-arranged move.

Two weeks before that Du Plessis was sent off against the All Blacks in Auckland after earning a second yellow card, although there was widespread condemnation of the first caution from French referee Romain Ponte for a tackle on flyhalf Dan Carter for which the hooker was later exonerated.

South Africa lost 29-15 but felt they might have made a better contest of it had they not been reduced to 14 men early in the second half.

Englebrecht is struggling with a quad muscle injury but will be given time to prove his fitness, Meyer said in a statement.

"But if he can't make it, Jan (Serfontein) will start with Juan (de Jongh) on the bench."

Kruger's elevation back to the startling-line up in the second row openes up a place on the bench for uncapped Franco van der Merwe, likely to get a debut run as a replacement on his home ground.

"Franco's attitude since day one has been fantastic, he's waited patiently and always stayed positive, which is what we as a team stand for," the coach added.

South Africa: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Willie le Roux, 13-JJ Engelbrecht or Jan Serfontein, 12-Jean de Villiers (captain), 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Fourie du Preez; 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5- Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Franco van der Merwe, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Ruan Pienaar, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Jan Serfontein or Juan de Jongh.

New Zealand: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Ben Smith, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Charlie Faumuina, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16-Dane Coles, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Ben Franks, 19-Steven Luatua, 20-Sam Cane, 21-Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Charles Piutau.

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