The forces involved are now known. This Thursday morning, South Africa revealed its team composition, with a Faf de Klerk-Handré Pollard hinge and a substitutes' bench with seven forwards. In the final of the day, New Zealand, in turn, unveiled the team with which it will aim for a fourth world crown, Saturday (9 p.m.), at the Stade de France, in the final of the Rugby World Cup.
The Kiwi coach records the return to the second row of Brodie Retallick who will pair with Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock will start on the bench. Retallick and Scott Barrett started against Ireland in the quarter-final and Barrett and Whitelock partnered in the semi-final success against Argentina.
There was, during the week, an injury fear for fly-half Richie Mo'unga and speculation he would make the final, but he was declared fit. Six players from this team have already been crowned world champions and the group of 23 has 1,387 caps, making it the most experienced All Blacks team for this fifth participation in the World Cup (three crowns, one defeat in 1995 against... South Africa).
No big changes in the starting XV compared to the team which beat Argentina (44-6) in the semi-final, after the Boks' 7-1 bench announcement. The only small change concerns the substitutes' bench: Nepo Laulala replaces Fletcher Newell. Samisoni Taukei'aho is still preferred over Dane Coles as backup hooker. Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Sam Whitelock will play their final match for New Zealand on Saturday evening.
15-Beauden Barrett, 14-Will Jordan, 13-Rieko Ioane, 12-Jordie Barrett, 11-Mark Telea, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Ardie Savea, 7-Sam Cane (cap), 6-Shannon Frizell, 5-Scott Barrett, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Tyrel Lomax, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-Ethan de Groot
Substitutes: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-Tamaiti Williams, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Sam Whitelock, 20-Dalton Papalii, 21-Finlay Christie, 22-Damian McKenzie and 23-Anton Lienert-Brown ; Editing by Ken Ferris)