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Springboks won't obsess over McCaw

South Africa will not get side-tracked by the return of New Zealand captain Richie McCaw for their Rugby Championship title-decider in Johannesburg on Saturday.

McCaw is set to return from a knee injury for the crucial clash, when a losing bonus point would be enough for the All Blacks to be crowned champions.

South Africa forwards coach Johan van Graan admits McCaw's return will be a major boost for the visitors, but knows the world champions have plenty of other threats to be contained as the Springboks plot a way to get the bonus-point win they require.

"Richie is one of the all-time best players, we respect him for that but we're just going to focus on what we want to do," he told reporters.

"I hope it goes well for him.

"This is a Springboks versus All Blacks Test and they have 15 world-class players in their team.

"I think Sam Cane and Liam Messam played brilliantly in Auckland and even though Richie McCaw is back and is captain again, it won't influence us."

South Africa have made two changes to the starting line-up that beat Australia 28-8 in Cape Town last weekend.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis replaces Adriaan Strauss, who scored the opener at Newlands, while Juandre Kruger come in for the suspended Flip van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe was this week handed a one-game ban after his high shot on Joe Tomane with the uncapped Franco van der Merwe named on the bench.

JJ Engelbrecht is a doubt with a quad complaint and has been named at outside centre along with Jan Serfontein.

Juan de Jongh is on standby to make the bench should Engelbrecht be ruled out.

"We will give JJ all the time he needs to fully recover from his quad muscle injury, but if he can't make it, Jan will start with Juan on the bench," coach Heyneke Meyer said.

"Juandre will slot in without any difficulty as he's been part of the squad since day one and I'm very pleased for Franco, who has been training with us for more than a year already.

"Franco's attitude since day one has been fantastic, he's waited patiently and always stayed positive, which is what we as a team stand for.

"On Saturday, he could make his debut against New Zealand in front of his home crowd at Ellis Park."

Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira is set to play his 50th Test and become the fifth South Africa prop to do so.

"What a wonderful achievement for Beast," Meyer said.

"He is someone who doesn't speak a lot, but you know he always gives everything he has for the Springbok jersey. It's always good to see hard work and dedication pay off like this."

South Africa squad: Z Kirchner; W Le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht/J Serfontein, J de Villiers (capt), 11 B Habana; 10 Morne Steyn, 9. F du Preez; 8 D Vermeulen, 7 W Alberts, 6 F Louw, 5 J Kruger, 4 E Etzebeth; 3 J du Plessis, 2 B du Plessis, 1 T Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 A Strauss, 17 G Steenkamp, 18 C Oosthuizen, 19 F van der Merwe, 20 S Kolisi, 21 R Pienaar, 22 P Lambie, 23 J Serfontein/J de Jongh.


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