Springboks promote Hougaard again as Cronje is ruled out

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South Africa have again drafted Francois Hougaard into their starting line-up for Saturday's clash with New Zealand in Albany after fellow scrum-half Ross Cronje was ruled out through illness.

Cronje - who also missed the 41-23 victory over Argentina in August - has been laid low by a stomach bug ahead of the potentially pivotal Rugby Championship fixture.

With Hougaard promoted to the starting XV, as he was for the clash with the Pumas in Salta, Rudy Paige is handed a seat on the bench to provide cover.

The Springboks were held to a 23-23 draw by Australia last time out, meaning they trail the All Blacks by three points in the table with three rounds remaining.

"Despite our results so far this season, we know we will have to step up our game," South Africa captain Eben Etzebeth said.

"A local rugby fan came up to me and said he thought the All Blacks versus Springbok games are probably the biggest in world rugby and I agree with him.

"Our matches are always massive, we know they're our biggest competition and hopefully they feel the same about us."