South Africa's World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi has opened up on his battle with alcohol, strip clubs and pornography.

The 30-year-old Springboks loose forward captained the side that defeated the All Blacks 31-29 on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Kolisi, whose new book 'Rise' is due out later this month, also led South Africa to the 2019 World Cup as skipper, having become the country's first black captain in 2018.

The 56-cap veteran, who debuted internationally in 2013 as a 21-year-old, revealed the struggles prior to his rise and throughout his career.

"Some people also know how I was in the past and I’m not a saint at all. I’m a sinner trying to be the best he can be every day," Kolisi told The Guardian.

"I drank when I was happy or sad, or dealing with something. Drinking was the only way I knew to get through this stuff."

He added: "Let’s say I’m someone’s role model. The kid will think: ‘I want to be like you one day.’ But he doesn’t know the struggles you face. No one tells him there’s temptation – alcohol, drugs, all these things are available to you.

"I wish I’d had a mentor that told me you’re going to face these challenges and you must be prepared to fight them.

"I had to go through the hard way. Now I want to make sure the next kid and his family can read the book and think: ‘How will we prevent that? How will we prepare you for that kind of life?'"

Kolisi, who is a devout Christian, revealed his gender-typical struggle with articulating himself, using alcohol, strip clubs and pornography to escape his confusion.

"I didn’t know how to speak for a long time," Kolisi said. "I’m learning as I go along with my wife.

"We’re five years into our marriage and I’m still learning how to have a proper conversation with her. That’s why I put in [the book] the things I did in the past, some of the vulnerability, so it can tell the true story."

Kolisi also spoke about his upbringing in Zwide, a township outside of Port Elizabeth, and losing his mother when he was 15, having seen her beaten by men. He has utilised his profile to be an advocate for gender equality.

"You win the World Cup and get given a platform. [Kolisi's wife] Rachel said: ‘You couldn’t help your mother or your aunt but you can help other women.’ She was right," he said.

"Gender violence hurts me even if I am a man. I have my own daughter, my wife and my sister. I would never want them to suffer this violence."

On pornography fueling gender violence, he added: "I’m not a professional so I don’t really want to get into that. But I know it [pornography] was a problem for me. I can’t say more than that."

South Africa's Elton Jantjies nailed a last-gasp penalty in a thrilling 31-29 win over New Zealand to deny the All Blacks a Grand Slam at the Rugby Championship.

Jordie Barrett, whose late kick secured the title in a 19-17 victory over the Springboks last week, looked to have sealed a sixth win from six for New Zealand in similar fashion on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

That was until Jantjies struck with the final action of an enthralling contest to end a 10-match winning streak for Ian Foster's men.

Lukhanyo Am's terrific behind-the-back pass led to Damian de Allende's opening try before an exchange of penalties kept South Africa five points ahead.

New Zealand levelled when Sevu Reece just made the corner after a fine Beauden Barrett kick, and despite another Handre Pollard penalty, the All Blacks were soon in command.

A fast, flowing move ended with Ardie Savea going over under the posts and Brad Weber added another try two minutes later following a lineout steal.

Then, momentum shifted. Pollard made no mistake with two more penalties to close the gap to three points, and the Boks were ahead 53 minutes in when Makazole Mapimpi crossed in the corner after the ball was worked from the opposite flank.

Replacement Jantjies stretched the lead further with another penalty, only after play was brought back following an advantage when Faf de Klerk fumbled at the breakdown barely a metre from the try line.

Jordie Barrett reduced the arrears as tensions began to build, although the Hurricanes back kept his cool to kick his side into the lead with five minutes left after South Africa were penalised for holding on.

A gripping finale saw Jantjies sink a brilliant drop goal a minute later only for Jordie Barrett to send another late kick sailing through the posts in what looked like a repeat from a week ago.

But South Africa came again, a lineout inside the New Zealand 22 leading to a penalty right in front of the posts, from which Jantjies made no mistake.

Boks rewarded for perseverance

At risk of a fourth consecutive Test defeat for the first time since 2016, the world champions were rewarded for a bold but clean display in which they refused to allow New Zealand to sustain first-half momentum.

This was only the second time the All Blacks have lost a Test match in Australia against anyone other than the Wallabies and showed the Springboks' performance in that narrow previous defeat was no flash in the pan.

All Blacks off the boil

This was something of an off-day for New Zealand after an exemplary championship, as they yielded both possession and territory surprisingly easily.

Giving up eight turnovers and losing six rucks overall did not help their cause in a game of fine margins.

A hat-trick from in-form Andrew Kellaway saw Australia close out their Rugby Championship campaign with a 32-17 victory over Argentina on Saturday.

Kellaway moved onto seven tries for the 2021 tournament in a one-sided contest on the Gold Coast as the Wallabies followed up last week's 27-8 win in style.

Dave Rennie's men have now won four Tests in a row for the first time since November 2017, while Argentina are on a six-match losing run, their worst such streak in two years.

Quade Cooper's 10th-minute penalty set Australia on their way against an Argentina side missing six players due to an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay.

Tomas Lavanini's repeated infringements in the lineout earned him a yellow card and Folau Fainga'a darted over for the first try from the resulting play.

Fainga'a and Rob Valetini combined to free Kellaway for his first try of the contest, with Samu Kerevi bursting through after patient build-up to make it 20-3 after the break, Emiliano Boffelli having kicked a penalty.

The Wallabies by now were in cruise control, Kellaway finishing with aplomb after more good build-up, and his hat-trick try in the same corner was served on a plate by Len Ikitau's clever lay-off.

A weary Pumas side had something to celebrate when debutant Thomas Gallo powered through near the posts, as Australia brought on 38-year-old Greg Holmes – now the oldest player to feature for the Wallabies since World War II – for his first cap since 2016.

Gallo got a late second after a pile-on at the try line to make the scores a little more respectable.

Rennie's men showing great promise

Kellaway, who now has more than twice the number of tries of anyone else at these championships, was a good advert for Australia's renewed vibrancy under Rennie.

This is the first time they have won four Rugby Championship matches in a row and the third Test in 2021 in which they have scored at least 30 points.

Little pride for Pumas

Argentina, meanwhile, are on their worst losing run since a 10-game span from September 2018 to September 2019 and sit bottom of the standings on zero and with a points difference of minus 135 from their six matches.

They have also taken just one win from their past 13 Tests against Australia.

South Africa will attempt to deny New Zealand a first Rugby Championship clean sweep since 2017 at Cbus Stadium.

The All Blacks beat the Springboks 19-17 last weekend to win the title with a game to spare and Ian Foster's side can complete a Grand Slam in this year’s tournament on the Gold Coast this weekend.

Three defeats in a row ensured South Africa were unable to retain their crown and the world champions slipped to third place when Australia beat Argentina in round five.

The Wallabies were already firm favourites to extend their winning run to four matches against the Pumas in a final-round double-header before six Argentina players were ruled out for breaching COVID-19 regulations.

Pablo Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino and Sebastian Cancelliere were stopped at the state border when they attempted to return to their Gold Coast base following an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay on Wednesday.

Here, Stats Perform utilizes Opta data to preview the last Rugby Championship matches of the year.

 

SOUTH AFRICA v NEW ZEALAND

Form

New Zealand have won their last 10 Tests on the bounce and edged out the Springboks in the previous round to seal top spot.

This will be the sixth Test between New Zealand and South Africa on neutral territory; the All Blacks have won each of their past four meetings in that span, though the Springboks won their inaugural fixture.

The All Blacks have gained more metres (618), scored more points (38) and made more clean breaks (14) per game than any other team in the 2021 edition of the Rugby Championship.

Ones to watch

Anton Lienert-Brown returns from injury at centre and will be expected to hit the ground running for the champions.

Wounded South Africa will be looking for number eight Duane Vermeulen to drive them on in what promises to be another almighty battle.

ARGENTINA v AUSTRALIA

Form

Australia's run of three consecutive wins is their longest since they managed four consecutive Test victories from October to November in 2017.

The Pumas have lost their past five Tests, after losing only twice in their 10 matches prior (W5, D3) to this tournament. The last time they went on a longer losing run was a 10-match span from September 2018 to September 2019.

Australia have missed the fewest tackles per game (12.2) and boast the highest tackle success rate (88.2 per cent) of any team in the 2021 edition.

Ones to watch

Greg Holmes is set to become the oldest player to feature for Australia since World War II. At the age of 38, the prop – who has not played for his country since 2016 - was named among the replacements by head coach Dave Rennie.

Emiliano Boffelli had a mixed game last Saturday, gaining 44 metres from seven carries. He was wasteful from the tee, however, and will want to make amends this weekend.

Ian Foster says New Zealand must raise their game when they attempt to complete a Rugby Championship clean sweep by beating South Africa on Saturday.

The All Blacks defeated the Springboks 19-17 last weekend to maintain their 100 per cent record and seal the title.

New Zealand can complete a first Southern Hemisphere 'Grand Slam' since 2017 if they make it six wins out of six in their last game of the tournament against the world champions at Cbus Stadium.

Anton Lienert-Brown returns from injury at centre, with Rieko Ioane switching to the left wing and Sevu Reece starting on the right.

Luke Jacobson comes in at number eight, while Brad Weber gets the nod at scrum-half as Richie Mo'unga has to settle for a place on the bench along with TJ Perenara and Damian McKenzie.

Head coach Foster is demanding improvement from the newly-crowned champions on the Gold Coast.

He said: "We've achieved the Championship title, which we're really proud to have achieved.

"The fact that we now have the chance to achieve a potential Grand Slam against our Southern Hemisphere opponents is pretty special. I'm excited by that, and it has already given this weekend's Test an edge."

He added: "We learnt some lessons last week.  We didn't look after the ball as well as we could have and some of our work at the ruck wasn’t as good as we wanted. We have to lift our performance in that area and the team is keen to get that right this weekend."

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber made two injury-enforced changes, with Ox Nche starting at loosehead prop and Trevor Nyakane switching to tighthead after Frans Malherbe was ruled out due to a neck injury.

Jasper Wiese comes into the matchday squad as a replacement as third-placed South Africa attempt to end the tournament on a high note.

 

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Brad Weber; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Ardie Savea (captain), Luke Jacobson.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo'unga, Damian McKenzie.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

Six Argentina players have been ruled out of facing Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday after making an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay.

Pablo Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino and Sebastian Cancelliere were stopped at the state border when they attempted to return to their Gold Coast base from New South Wales on Wednesday.

Manager Lucas Chioccarelli and video analyst Rodrigo Martinez were also prevented from entering Queensland due to coronavirus rules.

The Argentine Rugby Union stated that the players will not be available to face the Wallabies in their final match of the tournament at Cbus Stadium this weekend.

Rugby Championship organiser SANZAAR said in a statement: "SANZAAR has informed Argentina Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible to participate further in The Rugby Championship as they have breached tournament rules.

"SANZAAR is very disappointed that such a breach has occurred given the clear rules that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff, and compliance with all relevant health orders."

The Pumas are bottom of the table, having failed to pick up a point from five matches.

Meanwhile, Greg Holmes will become the oldest player to feature for opponents Australia since World War II at the age of 38 after the prop was named among the replacements by Dave Rennie.

Darcy Swain and Pete Samu come into the side, while back-rower Sean McMahon will also start on the bench as the Wallabies eye a fourth successive win to secure second place behind champions New Zealand.

 

Australia: Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Andrew Kellaway, Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Michael Hooper (captain) Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Greg Holmes, Matt Philip, Sean McMahon, Jake Gordon, James O'Connor, Tom Wright.

Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Rodrigo Martinez, Julian Montoya (captain), Enrique Pieretto, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni.

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Thomas Gallo, Eduardo Bello, Matias Alemanno, Francisco Gorrissen, Gonzalo Garcia, Domingo Miotti, Mateo Carreras.

Andrew Kellaway scored his fourth try of the Rugby Championship as in-form Australia beat Argentina 27-8 to go second in the table on Saturday.

The Wallabies have a runners-up spot behind champions New Zealand in their sights with one match against the Pumas to play after scoring three tries in their first ever Test in Townsville, moving above South Africa after they were beaten by the All Blacks.

Emiliano Boffelli dragged a penalty wide before Reece Hodge burst through a tackle after throwing a dummy and applied the finish following a swift side-step.

Hodge's early opening try came after a powerful run from the outstanding Samu Kerevi, who crashed over for a score of his own and Quade Cooper made it three successful kicks out of three to put the vibrant Wallabies 17-3 up at half-time following a penalty from Boffelli.

Julian Montoya touched down early in the second half at the back of a driving maul, but Boffelli missed the conversion and was also off target with another penalty.

James O'Connor sent a kick sailing through the posts after coming on for his first Test of the year while Marcos Kremer was in the sin-bin.

Replacement fly-half O'Connor set up Kellaway, the leading try-scorer in the tournament, for a simple finish nine minutes from time in another impressive showing from Dave Rennie's men.

Wallabies hitting their stride under Rennie

Australia, up to third in the rankings, were clearly brimming with confidence after beating world champions South Africa twice and they have won three consecutive Tests for the first time since November 2017 with head Dave Rennie making his mark.

The Pumas, on the other hand, have lost five in a row and have not scored more than 13 points in a game during that dismal run. The last time they went longer without scoring more than 15 points in a Test was a five-game stretch from March to August in 1990.

Kerevi causes havoc

The pace and power of centre Kerevi caused Argentina all sorts of problems.

Kerevi gained 90 metres with his 14 carries and beat six defenders in an all-action display.

A late penalty from Jordie Barrett secured a 19-17 win for New Zealand over South Africa and Rugby Championship glory for the All Blacks.

A tight and tense encounter in Queensland was settled when Barrett slotted through the posts with barely a minute remaining, a late error in possession from the Springboks then allowing New Zealand to hoof the ball into touch.

The 100th Test match between these teams started in positive fashion for New Zealand, Will Jordan touching down and Jordie Barrett converting after five minutes, but South Africa promptly turned the game on its head through S'busiso Nkosi's try and two Handre Pollard penalties.

Ian Foster's men, 23-13 winners over the Boks at the Rugby World Cup two years ago, found it hard to maintain any rhythm with the ball but did scrape into a half-time lead through two further Jordie Barrett kicks while Nkosi was sin-binned.

A topsy-turvy, error-strewn contest continued when Pollard and Jordie Barrett exchanged penalties in the space of three minutes, but it seemed South Africa's number 10 might have secured a surprise win to banish thoughts of back-to-back losses to Australia when he kicked them into a 17-16 lead with his fourth three-pointer 14 minutes from time.

Yet it was Jordie Barrett who had the final say, squeezing his penalty just inside the left-hand upright to extend the All Blacks' winning streak to 10 and secure the trophy with a game to spare.

Perfect 10 for champions

New Zealand have now won 10 matches in a row for the first time since an 18-game winning streak back in October 2016.

While this was far from a vintage display, they have dominated this year's competition from the off to regain the title they won in last year's Tri-Nations format.

South Africa have now lost their past three Test matches and will be desperate to avoid a fourth next weekend against the same opponents.

Barrett holds his nerve

New Zealand's attack was riddle with mistakes – their turnovers conceded count (23) was the same as the number of defenders they beat – but Jordie Barrett stayed accurate with the boot when the pressure was on.

His decisive attempt had looked to be drifting too far left but the relief was palpable when the flags were raised.

South Africa will attempt to spoil Michael Hooper's record-breaking Australia appearance when the Springboks go on a Rugby Championship revenge mission on Saturday.

Hooper will captain the Wallabies for a 60th time at Suncorp Stadium, surpassing the number of times George Gregan led Australia out.

A special occasion for the skipper will come six days after Quade Cooper marked his international return by kicking a dramatic winning penalty against the Boks on the Gold Coast.

Holders South Africa were consigned to a stunning 28-26 defeat in Queensland and trail leaders New Zealand by five points.

Australia are unbeaten in six Tests against the Springboks on home soil ahead of the round-four showdown, after achieving their first win of this year's tournament last weekend.

The All Blacks have maximum points from three matches and can take another stride towards regaining the title by beating Argentina.

Here, Stats Perform uses Opta facts to preview the Rugby Championship double-header in Brisbane.

 


AUSTRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA

Form

South Africa will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats in men's Tests for the first time since November 2018.

Australia have not won back-to-back Tests since October 2019 and may need to show their staying power once again to get their hands on the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate.

Dave Rennie's side have scored 27 points in the final quarter of games in this tournament, more than any other quarter of a match.

Nic White, James Slipper and Taniela Tupou come into the Australia team. Jacques Nienaber makes three changes to South Africa's matchday squad, with Marvin Orie and Trevor Nyakane starting. Cheslin Kolbe is not ready to return from injury.

 

Ones to watch

Andrew Kellaway scored Australia's only try in last week's win over the world champions.

The wing is the joint-leading try-scorer in the tournament with three, alongside David Havili and Malcolm Marx. 

With Lood de Jager absent due to concussion, Orie takes over at lock for South Africa.

De Jager has won a competition-high 22 lineouts, including three steals, so Orie has big shoes to fill.

 

ARGENTINA V NEW ZEALAND

Form

The All Blacks dished out a 39-0 thrashing to Argentina in round three, Luke Jacobson scoring two of their five tries.

New Zealand have kept the Pumas scoreless in each of their past two meetings and have only failed to beat them in two of 32 previous encounters.

Argentina have lost three consecutive Tests, having lost only twice in their 10 prior to that run.

Joe Moody comes into a much-changed All Blacks side and Ardie Savea returns as captain, while Samisoni Taukei'aho makes his first Test start. Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tuungafasi are also among the starters.

Santiago Carreras starts for Argentina at fly-half, while Pablo Matera takes the number eight shirt as Mario Ledesma makes six changes.

 

Ones to watch

The versatile Damian McKenzie gets the chance to start a second Test at fly-half for the All Blacks.

Playmaker McKenzie can put on a show at number 10 and pull the strings in tandem with scrum-half TJ Perenara.

Pumas captain Julian Montoya won three turnovers in the defeat to the All Blacks last weekend and his tally of four is twice as many as any other player in the tournament.

Montoya has not missed any of his 40 tackles in the competition.

Damian McKenzie will start at fly-half in a Test for the first time in three years as New Zealand overhauled their XV for the Rugby Championship clash against Argentina.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has made wholesale changes after last week's 39-0 rout of the Pumas on the Gold Coast, with McKenzie to start at number 10 in Brisbane on Saturday having been introduced off the bench.

New Zealand's backline at Suncorp Stadium will feature only four players who started against Argentina last time out as the All Blacks look to maintain their 100 per cent record in the competition – Ardie Savea returning to captain the side.

"With five Tests in a row and a six-day turnaround between these two Argentinian Tests, we were always going to make some selection changes," Foster said. "Five Tests in a row demanded that. 

"But the good thing is that we have a group that has been focussing on the same opposition for the last two weeks, so our preparation time hasn’t been compromised.

"We are expecting a huge response from Argentina and we have to make sure we are prepared for that because we know what a wounded beast is like. The key is not so much how they respond, but how we respond. If we go into this Test match thinking it's just going to happen for us like last week without earning the right to have the scoreboard in our favour, then we are in trouble."

New Zealand have won 30 of their 32 previous men's Tests against Argentina (D1, L1), including their last two in succession. They have also won three of their four meetings on neutral territory in that time (L1).

The All Blacks have kept Argentina scoreless in each of their last two meetings – only twice since 1900 has any Tier 1 nation kept another Tier 1 nation scoreless for more consecutive games (England – four games against Ireland from 1956 to 1959; France – three games against Italy from 1959 to 1961).

New Zealand have won their last eight consecutive Tests by an average margin of 40 points. A ninth straight victory would equal their longest winning streak since a run of 18 victories from August 2015 to October 2016.

 

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Damian McKenzie, TJ Perenara; Joe Moody, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'I, Ethan Blackadder, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu.
Replacements: Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Braydon Ennor.

Michael Hooper will become the Wallabies' most-capped captain when he leads Australia out against world champions South Africa.

The Wallabies announced their side for Saturday's clash with the Springboks as Hooper prepares to make history in the Rugby Championship showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

Hooper – who debuted in 2012 – will captain Australia for the 60th time in Brisbane, surpassing George Gregan after equalling the record in last week's dramatic victory over South Africa.

"It's an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday evening in Brisbane and it's a testament to him as a person and a player," Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie said on Thursday.

"I've been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day.

"We were really proud of the effort from our men last Sunday and we're well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring to Suncorp Stadium."

Rennie has elevated Nic White and Taniela Tupou to the starting side for the second Test against the Springboks.

White replaces Tate McDermott and Tupou comes in for Allan Alaalatoa, while James Slipper returns to the starting line-up, though James O'Connor remains on the sidelines.

Australia will be looking to claim consecutive Test wins in men's international rugby for the first time since October 2019 after a two-point win over South Africa – that was also the last time the Wallabies won a Test by more than three points.

The Wallabies are undefeated in their last six men's Tests against South Africa on home soil (W5, D1); although, none of their five wins in that span have come by a margin of seven points or more on the day.

 

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, Angus Bell, Tom Robertson, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia

Aaron Smith will play no further part in the Rugby Championship as the New Zealand scrum-half awaits the birth of his second child.

Smith started both victories over Australia at Eden Park last month but did not travel to face them in Perth at the start of September and was absent for last weekend's 39-0 win over Argentina.

The playmaker will also miss the upcoming clash with the Pumas and back-to-back showdowns with world champions South Africa, as he did not want to risk missing the arrival of his second child, which is due in November.

Smith will stay at home, with no guarantees he would secure a managed isolation space if he had to fly home earlier than expected.

The 32-year-old will instead play for Manawatu in the Bunnings Cup.

Smith could also miss the All Blacks' tour of the United States and Europe.

He said: "The door isn't completely closed to me joining the team for the Northern Tour if our baby comes early. 

"In this environment anything can happen, so I've got an open mind. At the moment though, I just want to focus on being here with my family and enjoying that time and playing for Manawatu. I can't wait to get the boots on again."

TJ Perenara and Brad Weber will battle it out for New Zealand's number nine shirt in the absence of Smith.

 

Quade Cooper made a sensational match-winning return as Australia got up and running in the Rugby Championship with a last-gasp 28-26 victory over South Africa on Sunday. 

Following back-to-back defeats to New Zealand to start the competition, veteran fly-half Cooper was named in the starting line-up for the visit of the world champions – his first international appearance since June 2017. 

The 33-year-old's kicking was exemplary, slotting through a seventh penalty and eighth successful kick of the game from 40 metres with the clock in the red to snatch the win at the death. 

Handre Pollard and Cooper scored two penalties apiece before Siya Kolisi's yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Tom Banks was pounced upon by Australia.

Samu Kerevi's excellent pass released Andrew Kellaway, who cut in off the right wing and dived in behind the posts. 

The Springboks responded well and Bongi Mbonambi powered over from the back of a driving maul after Matt Philip was sent to the sin bin for repeated ruck infringements, but the Wallabies still took an eight-point lead into the break. 

Willie Le Roux was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the 52nd minute and he was joined in the bin by Folau Fainga'a before replacement hooker Malcolm Marx touched down in the middle of another driving maul. 

Marx did likewise in the 72nd minute for his second try to put the Springboks in front, but Damian Willemse made a costly miss when attempting to convert from the tee. 

And after South Africa conceded a penalty at the death for not releasing on the ground, Cooper made them pay with a winning kick. 

Quade a display

He may have made 70 previous appearances for the Wallabies, but Cooper only scored 10 points or more in six of those matches. His 23 points against South Africa was consequently his best display for his country.

Hooper at the heart

Cooper may have taken the headlines, but Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper was formidable in the pack. He made two of his team's three clean breaks and did not miss any of his eight tackles.

New Zealand turned on the style to ruthlessly dispatch Argentina 39-0 to make it three wins from three in the Rugby Championship.

Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece and Dalton Papalii all touched down in a dominant first-half showing from the All Blacks at the CBUS Super Stadium in Queensland.

Luke Jacobson then scored twice in the second period to complete the most routine of wins for Ian Foster's side.

Ioane went over in scrappy fashion after 10 minutes when he reacted fastest to Bautista Delguy knocking a Beauden Barrett offload to ground.

Despite dominating ball and territory it took until three minutes before half-time for Reece to crash over, with Papalii following suit with time in the red following a drive from a line-out with Pablo Matera sent to the bin for the Pumas in the build-up due to persistent team infringements.

Jacobson had his first following a stunning offload from Barrett early in the second half and, after New Zealand were denied on three occasions by the TMO, he had a second with a strong run from the back of a scrum.

A late Jordie Barrett three-pointer added further gloss for a New Zealand side that was never troubled by a limp Argentina for who Nicolas Sanchez made a record 90th appearance.


Ioane a menace

Argentina were camped in their own 22 for the majority of the first half in no short part down to the work of Ioane.

The bulldozing centre, who prior to this game was the leader for metres gained in the Championship, consistently broke the lines and it was his quick reactions that got the All Blacks rolling.

Barrett bros almost combine for stunner

Shortly after Ioane's opener there was a moment of genius when Beauden Barrett's high kick was caught by brother Jordie deep into the try area and dotted down.

It was a sensational catch and ground by the full-back, who had absolutely no right to make the grab, but sadly his placing of the ball appeared to be just over the line.

Australia are looking for a lift and have turned to Quade Cooper to provide guile from number 10 against South Africa as the Rugby Championship resumes.

Three weeks on from the second round of games, Australia and the Springboks go head to head, and New Zealand tackle Argentina, with both games being played on Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The Wallabies took a Bledisloe Cup drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks, losing all three games in that series, with two of those forming part of this tournament, so they are looking for a spark and will hope Cooper, making his first international appearance in over four years, can provide that.

The 33-year-old last featured, briefly, against Italy in June 2017 and now plays for Japanese team Kintetsu Liners.

His career looked to be in steep decline at one point, as Cooper lost his place in not only the Australia squad during Michael Cheika's reign as coach, but also fell out of favour with the Queensland Reds.

Now he is set for a 71st Test appearance, having been originally beckoned into Dave Rennie's squad as a training player.

South Africa make seven changes to their starting XV for the match, with number eight Duane Vermeulen selected to make his first appearance for the Boks since the 2019 World Cup final after recovering from ankle surgery.

There are changes afoot for New Zealand too, with lock Brodie Retallick named captain for the clash with Argentina as Ardie Savea sits the game out after taking a knock to the head last week.

Ahead of the crunch double-header, the third of six rounds of games in the championship, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta facts.

NEW ZEALAND v ARGENTINA

Form

The All Blacks are inevitably on a high after crushing the Bledisloe Cup aspirations of their trans-Tasman rivals and duly making a strong start to the championship. They have full-back Jordie Barrett available despite his red card against Australia last time out after the punishment was rescinded on appeal in midweek.

New Zealand have won their last seven men's Tests on the bounce by an average margin of 40 points per game. The last time they won more in succession was a nine-game streak from November 2017 to September 2018 which included a 46-24 win over Argentina.

They have not always had it easy against the South American powerhouses, though. Their clashes in last year's Tri-Nations were memorable, with Argentina scoring a stunning 25-15 win over the All Blacks on November 14, 2020, only to then lose 38-0 when they met again a fortnight later. New Zealand have won 29 of their 31 Tests against Argentina (D1, L1).

New Zealand have had just 12 minutes and 53 seconds of possession per game in this year's Rugby Championship, the lowest of any team in the competition. Despite this, they lead the competition in metres gained (615), clean breaks (15), and points scored (48) per game.

Argentina's two defeats to South Africa in the opening two rounds suggest they might find the going tough this weekend.

Ones to watch

Blindside flanker Akira Ioane has crossed the gainline on 17 of his 18 gainline carries for New Zealand in the competition so far. His 94 per cent rate is the highest of any player to have made at least 10 gainline carries in this tournament.

Retallick will carry the responsibility of leadership after he was favoured ahead of Beauden Barrett who, at fly-half, was judged to have enough going on without having to issue orders.

Coach Ian Foster said of Retallick, who has returned to Test action this year after a spell in Japan: "He's back, he's confident, he's got the smile on his face, and that's part of the biggest thing with Brodie. When he's settled and he loves the environment, then he can go out and express himself.

"And I don't want a lot to change with that captaincy band. It's one of the challenges of giving it to someone like Brodie, do you force him into someone that he's not? But I'm really comfortable. He knows his role, he's clear and the boys certainly want to follow him."

Discipline will be important for both sides, with Argentina having received six yellow cards and one red card in their last six men's Tests, including two yellow cards against the Boks last time out. They had received only one yellow card and one red card in their previous 25 Tests.

SOUTH AFRICA v AUSTRALIA

Form

After the tussle between the All Blacks and Pumas, perhaps this can be considered the headline match of the weekend, an embattled Australia facing World Cup winners who are aiming for a statement victory.

For COVID-19 reasons, Queensland is staging the remainder of this tournament, and Australia coach Rennie will look for a response from his players to their sequence of losses.

The three-in-a-row streak is a concern, and the last time the Wallabies lost more in succession was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018. They lost twice to Ireland and twice to New Zealand before ending that losing run with a 23-18 success against South Africa.

Australia have won 19 of their last 24 men's Tests at home against South Africa, logging just three defeats in that span (D2). They are undefeated in their last five such fixtures (W4, D1), yet each of those games has featured a margin of fewer than seven points on the day.

It could be tight again, with South Africa having won 15 of their 18 Tests since the beginning of 2019. They have won their last four on the bounce, and their 83 per cent win rate since the beginning of 2019 is the best of any top-tier team in that time.

South Africa defeated Argentina 29-10 in the second round, while Australia went down 38-21 to New Zealand in Perth.

The Springboks have missed the fewest tackles per game (16) so far in the championship and have the highest tackle success rate (89 per cent) of any team. Australia’s tackle success rate of 82 per cent is the lowest of the four sides, but the context is that they were facing the All Blacks.

South Africa have created 20 mauls throughout this tournament, which is twice as many as any other team and five times as many as Australia (4); the Springboks have gained 56 metres and scored one try from those mauls.

Ones to watch

Australia scrum-half Tate McDermott has beaten nine defenders in this year's Rugby Championship, the second-most of any player (Akira Ioane – 12). He beat seven defenders against the All Blacks in the last round, and only twice in the last decade has any scrum-half from a tier one nation made more (Antoine Dupont 9, Francois Hougaard 8).

He therefore has a pivotal role to play, and how he combines with Cooper will be keenly observed.

Rennie said he was "thrilled" to be able to be giving Cooper another chance to show his quality at this level, and it remains to be seen whether this is a one-off comeback or something that might have longer-term legs.

Michael Hooper will match George Gregan's record of 59 matches as captain of Australia as he wins a 112th cap, and there are other landmarks set to arise. Reece Hodge, who starts on the bench, and Allan Alaalatoa will each win 50th caps.

Rennie described the match as "a huge occasion" for Hooper, hailing his longevity as "testament to his leadership and resilience".

Boks coach Jacques Nienaber said of the occasion: "Australia pose a strong threat with their running rugby and they like to keep the ball in play. They will also be playing in front of a charged-up home crowd, so it will be good to have these experienced players back as they know what it takes to perform in big matches."

South Africa have won their last two Tests on the bounce against Australia, as many as they had won in their eight encounters prior (D2, L4). The last time they won more successive games against the Wallabies was a three-game winning stretch from September 2012 to September 2013.

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