The world's top two nations will go head to head for the 100th time on Saturday when New Zealand face South Africa in a centenary fixture for the ages.

A century on from their maiden meeting, the southern-hemisphere titans collide at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in a matchup that could well decide this year's Rugby Championship title.

Even a losing bonus point would be sufficient for the All Blacks to clinch the crown for a seventh time in nine editions of the tournament, with second-place South Africa 10 points off the pace as things stand.

The Springboks need to inflict heavy defeats upon New Zealand on back-to-back weekends to have a chance at overturning that deficit to retain their belt.

South Africa are in need of a convincing win over New Zealand in order to keep their Rugby Championship chances alive

Therein lies the issue considering South Africa haven't scored consecutive wins over the All Blacks since 2009, while they're also coming off the back of successive defeats to Australia.

Ian Foster's side have taken a maximum 20 points from their four outings thus far in the Rugby Championship and most recently bested Argentina on back-to-back weekends.

It's even more daunting for their opponents that New Zealand were able to rest a selection of first-string players for their most recent victory over the Pumas, with many regulars set to return in Townsville.

“The whole team is excited at what lies ahead this weekend," Foster told reporters ahead of this landmark encounter between two rugby superpowers.

New Zealand can clinch the 2021 Rugby Championship title in their 100th meeting with South Africa (

Image:

Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

"The group is working hard, we have been building our performances and we’ve put ourselves in a great position to win the Fortinet Rugby Championship and that’s really exciting for the team. The fact that it is against South Africa is pretty special.”

Springboks counterpart Jacques Nienaber has made only two changes to his team for his side's penultimate outing of the tournament, welcoming Lood de Jager and Kwagga Smith back into the pack.

De Jager missed last Saturday's 30-17 defeat to the Wallabies after suffering concussion symptoms, while Smith comes in as a flanker replacement for Franco Mostert, who drops to the bench following a string of starts.

The All Blacks have rung the changes on a mass scale, meanwhile, after swapping eight personnel out of the XV that faced Argentina last time out.

New Zealand recently made light work of Argentina in back-to-back fixtures (

Image:

Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Beauden Barrett and David Havili are the only back-line tweaks at fly-half and centre, respectively, but the likes of Akira Ioane, Brodie Retallick and Codie Taylor will offer big boosts among the returning forwards.

This will be the first encounter between this pair since the pool stage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, where it was the All Blacks who snagged a 23-13 win in Japan.

New Zealand have won 59 of their 99 meetings with South Africa to date, but victory on Saturday would be up there with the most significant as they look to restore their place atop the Rugby Championship throne.

What are the teams?

New Zealand

(Backs) Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; (Forwards) Luke Jacobson, Ardie Savea (c), Akira Ioane, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody

Reps: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Quinn Tupaea

South Africa

(Backs) Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; (Forwards) Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi (c), Kwagga Smith, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane

Reps: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Marco van Staden, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn

How to watch New Zealand vs South Africa?

Sky Sports Arena will host build-up to the match from 7.30am ahead of an 8.05am kick-off, while viewers can also stream Saturday's match live using Sky Go.

What are the odds?

New Zealand - 2/9

Draw - 33/1

South Africa - 5/1

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