Captain Siya Kolisi was among 12 Springboks who left South Africa for New Zealand on Tuesday, even though a knee injury will prevent him facing the All Blacks on July 15.

The match in Auckland is set to have a big bearing on the Rugby Championship, the southern hemisphere tournament reduced to one round this year because of the World Cup in France.

While 26 Springboks have remained in Pretoria to prepare for a clash with Australia on Saturday, Kolisi led an advance party to Oceania.

The early arrivals will include five backs -- wingers Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi, centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel and scrum-half Faf de Klerk.

There will initially be six fit forwards as well -- hooker Malcolm Marx, locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, and a back-row trio of Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert and Jean-Luc du Preez.

Jasper Wiese, expected to be the first choice No. 8 at the World Cup ahead of veteran Duane Vermeulen, will fly to New Zealand later this week after the birth of his child on Monday.

Originally, the advance party also included loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff, but he has been held back in case Ox Nche is ruled out of the Australia Test due to a chest injury.

New Zealand time is 10 hours ahead of South Africa and the move is designed to combat jet lag. A further 17 or 18 players will fly to New Zealand after the international against the Wallabies.

Rugby World Cup title-holders South Africa also used a split squad before the last edition, in Japan four years ago, and it helped them to their only Rugby Championship crown.

Sidelined by a knee injury since April, Kolisi has attended all the build-up camps for the Rugby Championship and is expected to be available for pre-World Cup warm-up matches in August.

His place at openside flank against Australia went to Marco van Staden and Smith could fill in for the first black Test skipper of the Springboks when they face New Zealand.

South Africa begin their World Cup defence against Scotland in Marseille on September 10, then face Romania, Ireland, currently the No. 1 ranked Test team, and Tonga in Pool B.

Ireland and South Africa are expected to occupy the first two places in the final standings and qualify for the quarter-finals, with France and New Zealand their likely opponents.

These four countries are the favourites to win a competition which New Zealand and South Africa have won three times each, Australia twice and England once.