Rugby Championship

Boks chasing elusive scalp

2014-10-03 22:37
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - With the 2015 Rugby World Cup fast approaching, the Springboks are running out of time to get a psychological edge over the All Blacks.

Saturday's Rugby Championship match in Johannesburg is seen as the opportune time to get one over the old foes.

The Springboks have claimed victories over all the top rugby nations during the Heyneke Meyer era with the exception of a win over New Zealand.

South Africa have come close on two occasions during the past two years, first in last year's Eden Park Test where a poor refereeing decision left supporters wondering what if ... but instead the Boks went down 29-15.

Less than a month ago, the Boks could not close off a promising final 10 minutes of play as they went down 14-10 in Wellington.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers admitted that beating the All Blacks was an important step towards their Rugby World Cup campaign.

"We would rather ask ourselves what we are trying to achieve rather than trying to end something for them," De Villiers said ahead of the clash.

"That is what is important to us. We want to get a victory over them and we want a good performance first of all tomorrow.

"So it will mean a lot to the team if we can achieve that. We are busy with our processes and obviously the end goal will be to win the World Cup next year, but this is an important step towards that."

Reasons for the All Blacks' unrivalled success dominated the build-up to the clash, with both camps offering their opinions on the hot topic.

The Kiwis have lost a single match -- a 38-21 defeat to England at Twickenham in December 2012 -- in 35 Tests since they were crowned World Champions in 2011 on home soil.

All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen said mental strength was a major component in his side's 21-match unbeaten record.

"There are a number of reasons why we've been unbeaten -- fortitude and the ability to retain our composure in tight situations and we've probably been a bit lucky as well," Hansen said.

"The big thing is, mentally this group is very strong, they have a great belief in themselves and there is a lot of composure and staying deliberately calm in those pressure situations.

"If we are honest with ourselves, there were a few games that we could have easily lost, so we try to review as deeply and honestly as we can after each game."

Hansen, however, said there was no reason for his adversary [Meyer] to feel any pressure.

"He shouldn't be under any pressure. They are the number-two side in the world -- last year they only lost two games," Hansen said in defence of Meyer.

'He's got the team playing really well. We've beaten them but every single game we've played against them has been a tough game.

"Sometimes the scores didn't reflect that, so whoever is putting pressure on him should stop. Instead they should pat him on the back and tell him to go nowhere because he's the best coach they've got."

Meyer said the manner in which his charges dealt with New Zealand's kicking game could be a deciding factor in the match.

"They are the team that kicks the most in the world, but they kick intelligently, they execute every single kick and they put you under pressure," he said.

"It is difficult to play against the All Blacks because tactically they can out-kick you, they are very good in the air, they are fit and they can move the ball and they have the skills."

The Bok mentor said while he preferred a ball-in-hand type of approach, his team also had to be tactically sound on Saturday.


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