Sam Cane: 'not a lot to fix'

All Blacks captain Sam Cane believes there is "not a whole lot" they need to improve to get back into top form after four losses in their last five tests has left the team under fire back home and their 2023 Rugby World Cup preparations under a cloud.

Ireland's historic 2-1 series win in New Zealand last month put head coach Ian Foster under enormous pressure but it was his assistants John Plumtree and Brad Mooar who got the boot and were replaced by forwards coach Jason Ryan.

Any immediate improvement will be tested by world champions South Africa in the opening match of the Rugby Championship that will be played at altitude in Nelspruit on Saturday.

"It may seem like there's a lot to fix from the outside but in camp we have some clear focuses and often when you get those big things right a lot of the smaller things that may seem like issues sort themselves out," Cane said.

"It's important that we don't focus on all these things going wrong because the truth is there aren't a whole lot. With top teams it is small margins in games.

"In the last test (against Ireland) we lost by 10 points (32-22) but we let them score two rolling maul tries, which for an All Black pack is something we don't see as acceptable. Fix that and it is one big thing we have sorted out."

New Zealand play their first test in South Africa since 2018 and for some of the touring All Blacks it will be a new experience to face the Boks in their own backyard.

"It's been a long time since we have been here. It is one of the things you took for granted when we were doing it twice a year. There are a few boys who are in South Africa for the first time," Cane added.

"They (the Boks) have an incredible amount of depth in their squad. We know what to expect, a confrontational, physical battle.

"Big men coming around the corner, cleaning hard, and then the skill in the midfield and the backs. It's up there with the best in the world. They are the full package."

The teams will also clash in a second Rugby Championship encounter in Johannesburg on Aug. 13.

Meanwhile South Africa have recalled hooker Malcolm Marx and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk to the starting lineup for the Rugby Championship opener.

A third change from the side that beat Wales 30-14 in Cape Town last month sees rookie wing Kurt-Lee Arendse come in for the injured Cheslin Kolbe, who is nursing a broken jaw.

Marx will earn his 50th cap, matching the feat of the man he replaces in the starting side, Bongi Mbonambi, who reached that mark last time out against the Welsh. "He (Marx) is a true warrior and epitomises what we stand for as the Springboks," coach Jacques Nienaber said in a media release from South African Rugby.

"We are preparing for a challenging test which will be vital in setting the tone for our Rugby Championship campaign this year and that is our focus'" said coach Jacques Nienaber.

"The All Blacks are strong all around and they will come to Nelspruit desperate to avenge their (2-1 home) series defeat against Ireland and to prove that they remain one of the powerhouses in world rugby, so we believe experience and physicality will be vital in this test."