Johannesburg - New Zealand coach Steve
Hansen believes the clash against the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday will
give some clarity on both the opposition and his own personnel for the Rugby
World Cup later this year.
Naming two debutants in Lima Sopoaga at
flyhalf and James Broadhurst for the titanic clash, Hansen demonstrated he was
not afraid to make a gamble.
“We know that we are up against one of the
best sides in the world, if not the best playing them on their home patch and what
better challenge to see young players in,” Hansen said in Johannesburg on
“We are mindful of the fact there is a
World Cup at the end of the year and we’ve got to select the right 31 people to
go to that.
“We are also mindful we’ve got to have an
experienced side on the park to be able to compete but at the same time we have
to be brave enough to make some selections that will allow us to go forward in
Hansen, who has forged a close relationship
with Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer over the last few seasons, said his rival’s
selections for the Test could give some insights of the game plan he had in
The Boks have brought renowned fetcher
flank Heinrich Brussow in from the cold to form a loose trio with No 8 and
captain Schalk Burger and Francois Louw on the blindside.
This effectively leaves South Africa with
two specialist openside flanks who have an affinity for the breakdown battle
and little in terms of ball-carrying ability.
“It may provide an opportunity at lineout
time but I think it does provide a big threat at the breakdown and that is
probably why H (Heyneke Meyer) has selected him (Brussow),” Hansen said.
“He (Meyer) has a game plan in mind that he
wants to plan and he wants two guys on the park that are effective at the
breakdown and put pressure on us. You get an understanding of how he wants to
play the game.”
The two old foes will go up against each
other at one of South Africa’s hallowed grounds for the third consecutive year.
The last two encounters have dished up
everything that one can expect of one rugby's greatest clashes with the New
Zealanders winning a cracker in the final match of the Rugby Championship to
win the title in 2013.
A late long-range Pat Lambie penalty
brought the All Blacks’ impressive 21-match undefeated run to an end and gave
Meyer his first victory over the defending World Championships.
While the winner on Saturday could claim a
psychological victory over the other ahead of the World Cup where the two sides
are likely to meet in the semi-finals, Hansen said he looked no further than
“This is about this contest and what we can
learn about ourselves and about South Africa I guess and it’s about a performance
that we can be proud of and hopefully good enough for us to get a win,” he
“You’ve got to have the ability to play a
tight game as well as a free-flowing game, then you look at the opposition and
pick the when you like.”
Hansen had some positive words for the
Springboks inexperienced but exciting midfield axis of flyhalf Handre Pollard,
Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel.
“They haven’t had a lot of Test matches but
they are certainly three good athletes, the boy that has moved in from fullback
(Kriel), he really looked good last week, he’s got some gas,” Hansen said.
“His partner (De Allende) is a big, strong
boy and Pollard looks like he can be something special as time goes on.
“I think they’ll look to grow that
combination as time goes by and hopefully Jean de Villiers would be back, it
would be great to see him back from his knee injury.
“I know he’s worked really hard but once
there is a change in the guard I tell you those three will be there for some
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13
Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan
Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood
de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor
Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus
Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad
Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8
Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4
Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt
Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22
Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa