21 Jul 2015

Smith and Fekitoa to pair up vs Boks?

9:48 am on 21 July 2015

The All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has hinted Conrad Smith and Malakai Fekitoa could combine in the midfield for this weekend's Rugby Championship Test against South Africa.

The All Blacks centre Conrad Smith in action against England.

The All Blacks centre Conrad Smith in action against England. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ma'a Nonu paired up with Sonny Bill Williams in last Friday's win over Argentina, though the latter has been left out of the trip to South Africa to freshen up while veteran Smith has rejoined the squad after missing the Samoa and Argentina Tests.

Sunday's match in Johannesburg will be another step up and many are expecting the tried and true combination of Nonu and Smith to be reinstated.

However Foster has hinted Smith and Fekitoa, who are yet to play for the All Blacks this year, could make a rare start together.

"We've got plenty of options there, you've got some contrasting players," Foster said. "Conrad is a very experienced campaigner and Malakai, we like the balance and contrast he gives us as a ball carrier that can pass. The South Africans' had a new midfield last week so we're just assessing that to see what we should offer up."

Brodie Retallick

Brodie Retallick Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Lock Brodie Retallick says the All Blacks forwards will spend extra time practising their lineout defence in anticipation of a Springbok assault on the New Zealand set piece.

Argentina scored two tries from lineout drives in the 39-18 loss to New Zealand last Friday in Christchurch and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was quick to concede they must rectify the situation before playing the Springboks in Johannesburg on Sunday morning.

"We let in a couple of tries from the Argentinian's driving and it's probably somewhere they're going to try and attack us this week as well so we need to work on that during the week and make sure we get it right" Retallick said.

Meanwhile the Springboks captain and lock Victor Matfield and flanker Marcell Coetzee are carrying injuries and are unlikely to be available for Sunday's match.

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