All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has challenged Hosea Gear to rise in the cauldron of Soweto on Sunday.
Gear is the most notable of five minor tweaks Hansen has made to his side that will confront the hungry Springboks.
The starting team features only one other change - signifying the All Blacks' respect for the Boks and their desire to finish the tournament unbeaten - with Brodie Retallick coming in for Luke Romano.
The Crusaders lock steps back to the bench in an effort to protect the three facial gashes, suffered in friendly fire against the Pumas, from opening up during contact this week.
"It's more about Luke," Hansen said. "He's got three different sites for stitches on his face. It allows him to stay out of training. We don't want to lose intensity at training so Brodie gets a start and Luke will come on late in the game."
On the bench, Tamati Ellison takes Ben Smith's utility spot, prop Ben Franks gets an opportunity ahead of Charlie Faumuina and Adam Thomson will cover the loose forwards in place of Sam Cane.
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has recovered from a knock to the knee this week.
If he takes the field, Thomson will make his first appearance in the Rugby Championship.
But it is Hansen's continued rotation of his left wingers that will be the talking point.
Julian Savea is the surprise causality. Despite impressing in the last three tests against Argentina, where he claimed a braced last week, and the Boks in Dunedin, Savea has been relegated out of the squad in an apparent ploy to take him out of the spotlight.
"We are very happy with how Julian is going and it's not a reflection on him, just the need for a young player to step out of the pressure," Hansen said.
Savea has set high standards. Hansen has now laid down the challenge to Gear, who hasn't made his mark with the All Blacks this season.
He's scored one try - in the 60-0 romp over Ireland in Hamilton - in three starts.
Gear must make a strong impression to push his former Hurricanes team-mate.
"His form wasn't that bad when we changed and let Julian have a chance. We've rotated. It's important for Hosea to step in and step up," Hansen said.
"He did that last time we did this. He played particularly well against Ireland [Hamilton] - he probably had one of his better tests.
I'm expecting him to have a big game. He's itching to get out there."
Gear's main weakness has been his work-rate. He is considered one of the world's best finishers but too often goes missing in matches.
The 28-year-old will also have his hands full marking veteran Boks wing Bryan Habana, who scored a hat-trick against the Wallabies in Pretoria last week.
"So far with us he's been doing that Okay," Hansen said of Gear's desire to get his hands on the ball. "Having watched what Julian has done the last test I'm sure he's excited to score a few tries himself.
It will be a big challenge for him."
All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw ©, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Luke Romano, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Tamati Ellison
- © Fairfax NZ News
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