Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is predicting a tight encounter in their Rugby World Cup opener against the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday.


The recent encounters between South Africa and New Zealand have been tight, with no more than a two-point margin between the sides in their last four Tests.

This year's 16-all draw in Wellington was preceded by a 32-30 win for New Zealand in Pretoria last year, while the Boks won the first 2018 encounter 36-34 in Wellington.

In 2017 in Cape Town, the All Blacks narrowly won 25-24.

"Our last three matches have ended in stalemate, one win each and a draw, for an aggregate score of 82-82. You couldn't say there is a favourite. I think we have a healthy respect for each other's capabilities but it will come down to a small moment to decide a big game in the end, I suppose," Erasmus said via a press statement after naming an unchanged line-up on Wednesday.

It will also be the fifth meeting between the two arch-rivals at Rugby World Cups.

The Boks won the 1995 final 15-12 in Johannesburg and also won the 1999 third-place playoff 22-18 in Cardiff.

New Zealand won the 2003 quarter-final 29-9 in Melbourne and the 2015 semi-final 20-18 in London.

Overall, the All Blacks boast a 58-36 win-loss record over the Springboks, with four matches ending in draws.

"Our job is to focus on executing our plan and our skills to the best of our ability and hope that that is enough to overcome a New Zealand team that will be doing exactly the same," Erasmus concluded.

Saturday's clash kicks off at 11:45 (SA time).


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff 

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel

New Zealand

15 Beauden Barrett  14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Ben Smith

- Compiled by Herman Mostert