Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - New Zealand's winning run "scares the living daylights" out of Springbok captain Jean de Villiers.
De Villiers's Springboks can halt the world champion's run of 15 straight wins in their Rugby Championship match in Soweto on Saturday. But if the Boks can't stop the All Blacks, De Villiers fears no one else can.
"It sort of scares the living daylights out of me that if they win this week and if they win next week and then the end of year tour, they can go on to 23, 24 Tests, you know. That's quite a big record," De Villiers said on Friday.
New Zealand and South Africa share the record for consecutive Test wins for a top-tier rugby nation at 17, but New Zealand - the newly crowned southern hemisphere champions - can move one behind that with a victory at Soweto's FNB Stadium this weekend.
The Bledisloe Cup match against a struggling Australia in Brisbane later this month could allow the dominant All Blacks to equal the mark, leaving them with games against Scotland, Italy, Wales and England on their end-of-year tour to make history and extend their run.
Lithuania holds the record for most consecutive wins for any international rugby team at 18, while a major rugby country hasn't won 17 straight Tests since Nick Mallett's Springboks in 1997/98.
It gives South Africa another reason, other than its own up-and-down form this Rugby Championship, to beat their great rivals on Saturday.
"For us as South Africans, being shareholders of that record, we sort of have a responsibility to protect it in a way," De Villiers said. "But records are there to be broken.
"New Zealand is chasing something quite big in that record ... so with that comes a bit of pressure as well and obviously for us as a team, we're still pretty much under pressure to perform and to show that we are improving."
New Zealand canceled their captain practice at the FNB Stadium planned for Friday, apparently confident their players are familiar enough with the venue, having won the only other rugby international there when they beat the Springboks 29-22 in 2010.
South Africa were the last team to beat New Zealand, in August last year, before the All Blacks began their victorious World Cup campaign and 15-match run with a 41-10 win over Tonga in Auckland.