The world's top three teams go head-to-head over the next six weeks to decide the 2005 Tri-Nations champions. Last year's winners South Africa should get the ball rolling with victory tomorrow.
2005 TRI-NATIONS: Saturday, July 30
South Africa v Australia, Securicor Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, kick-off 2.00pm
Ireland's players will be keen observers of proceedings down South until early September as Australia, the Springboks' opening opponents in Pretoria, and New Zealand, fresh from their Lions series win, both visit Lansdowne Road in November.
Tomorrow, home advantage, and a poor build-up from Eddie Jones' Aussies, should see South Africa chalk up Tri-Nations win number one.
Australia, who have been forced into four changes from last weekend's 33-20 Mandela Challenge loss to the 'Boks at Ellis Park, have not helped by the recent nightclub controversy involving Matt Henjak, Lote Tuqiri, Matt Dunning and Wendell Sailor. Still, the escapade could have bound the nucleus of a tight camp even tighter.
The Australian forwards looked admittedly tired last Saturday, and coach Jones has reacted to that, opting for four changes in his XV - Matt Dunning, Daniel Vickerman, John Roe and Morgan Turinui are all included for the opener.
Al Baxter makes way for Dunning at tight-head prop, the experienced Vickerman, one of the Super 12's leading lock exponents, takes the place of Mark Chisolm, while Roe beats out Rocky Elsom for the blindside flanker spot.
Turinui, meanwhile, has earned his chance at outside centre ahead of Stirling Mortlock.
Boasting a record which has seen them go winless on South African soil in the last five years, fans of the Wallabies will travel in hope more so than with confidence.
'Boks boss Jake White has made three alterations for tomorrow's tie - Fourie du Preez returns at scrum-half, with CJ van der Linde and Jacques Cronje introduced to the pack.
Joe van Niekerk shifts from number eight to the blindside for Cronje's inclusion at the base of the home scrum. Elsewhere, tight-head prop Van der Linde replaces Eddie Andrews, who is attending the birth of his second child, while Du Preez comes in for Ricky Januarie as pivot.
Nothing in rugby is a certainty but the 'Boks home record under White speaks for itself - the only blip being a 30-30 draw with France earlier this month.
A solid afternoon's work from fly-half Andre Pretorius, who should benefit from du Preez's neat service, and the heavy home pack should be enough to see the 'Boks winners by 5-10 points.
Their tails are up and their talent widespread, undoubtedly evidenced by the positioning of fiery flanker Schalk Burger - the winner of the IRB International Player of the Year and the South Africa Player of the Years awards in 2004 - on the replacements' bench.
South Africa: Percy Montgomery; Breyton Paulse, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Andre Pretorius, Fourie du Preez; Gurthro Steenkamp, John Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Joe van Niekerk, Juan Smith, Jacques Cronje.
Replacements: Gary Botha, Lawrence Sephaka, Albert van den Berg, Schalk Burger, Ricky Januarie, Wayne Julies, Jaco van der Westhuyzen.
Australia: Chris Latham; Wendell Sailor, Morgan Turinui, Matt Giteau, Lote Tuqiri; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (capt); Bill Young, Jeremy Paul, Matt Dunning, Daniel Vickerman, Nathan Sharpe, John Roe, George Smith, David Lyons.
Replacements: Stephen Moore, Al Baxter, Mark Chisholm, Phil Waugh, Chris Whitaker, Stirling Mortlock, Drew Mitchell.
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)