Aaron Smith (R) at All Blacks training this week.

Aaron Smith (R) at All Blacks training this week. Photo: Getty Images

Aaron Smith has broken team protocol and has been relegated to the reserves for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Dunedin on Saturday night.

Smith had started at halfback in all six previous Tests this season and his indiscretion gives Piri Weepu his first start since last year's Rugby World Cup.

All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen made no apology for the decision to demote Smith.

He said there was a strong focus on recovery after Test matches and Smith had breached protocol after the match against Argentina in Wellington last weekend.

"Protocols are non-negotiable and the consequences are you don't start in the playing 15 if you break them."

Hansen said it was irrelevant to speculate whether Smith would have started had he not broken protocol.

"He broke them so we don't need to go there. The other fellow (Weepu) played pretty well last weekend as well. We're very fortunate we've got two good halfbacks."

Hansen declined to specify Smith's offence but replied "no" when asked whether alcohol was a factor.

The return of Weepu, who will be playing his 63rd Test, is one of four changes to the All Blacks' starting line-up.

The others are in the forwards where Liam Messam slots in at blindside flanker in place of Victor Vito, lock Sam Whitelock comes in for Brodie Retallick and Andrew Hore starts at hooker instead of Keven Mealamu.

There is also a change in the back reserves where Highlander Tamati Ellison replaces teammate Ben Smith because of his ability to cover second five-eighth in the absence of Dan Carter.

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer believes the conditions provided by Dunedin's covered stadium could produce a potential try-fest and it may be more of an advantage to the home side.

But while he has stuck with a conservative-looking line-up for the match, he says his own players are looking forward to a dry surface.

"It's the same for both teams, but I think it suits their game probably more," he said.

"But we also play great rugby at the high veldt, where it's dry, so I think it's going to be a quick game with probably a lot of tries."

There are two changes from the side that lost to Australia in Perth last weekend, both in the forwards.

Second-rower Flip van der Merwe replaces the suspended Eben Etzebeth while Francois Louw comes in for Marcell Coetzee at openside flanker.

The Test will be the first at Forsyth Barr Stadium for both the All Blacks and the Springboks.

The teams last met in Dunedin in 2008, when South Africa finally broke their duck at the old Carisbrook ground after 87 years of trying.

The win was secured by an individual piece of magic from halfback Enrico Januarie, whose solo try was converted by Francois Steyn to take the visitors to a decisive 30-28 victory.

All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tamati Ellison, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Victor Vito, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu.

Springboks: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, Dean Greyling, Andries Bekker, Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Juan de Jongh, Pat Lambie.

AAP