Boks geed up for AB challenge
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has highlighted the colossal challenge his side faced in their attempt to beat the All Blacks in their deciding Rugby Championship Test at Ellis Park on Saturday.
And, if beating the best defensive team was not enough, the Boks were also targetting a four-try bonus point victory over New Zealand and needed to prevent their foes from picking up a bonus point of their own.
If the Boks were successful in all three of their ambitious targets, the would claim the championship trophy for the first time since 2009.
"We’ve really planned well and now it’s going to be a matter of executing, but there is a lot of mutual respect between us and the All Blacks," Meyer said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
"Nobody (South African team) has scored four tries against the All Blacks for the last eight, maybe nine years, and in those days the defence wasn’t as organised.
"We’ve got a plan but it is a difficult task...they are a quality side and just to win the game will be a massive challenge for us."
The Springboks last scored four tries against the All Blacks back in 2004 when they inflicted their second biggest winning margin over the New Zealanders with a 40-26 triumph at Ellis Park.
"I’ve never said we’re going to go out and score four tries. We’re just going to go out there and try and play positive rugby," Meyer said.
“Obviously you have to believe that you are able to do it, otherwise there is no use in going out there.
"It is very difficult playing against the All Blacks as they’ve only conceded seven tries in the last eight Test matches."
While the New Zealanders were dangerous on attack, and nearly impenetrable on defence, Meyer felt their kicking game posed the biggest threat.
"They’ve got a great running game but what makes them so effective is their kicking game.
"They outkicked us when we played in Soweto and we couldn’t get out of our half -- they kicked 12 times more than us.
"So if we want to beat them even before we start scoring tries, we have to match them with their kicking game."
Lock Juandre Kruger received a starting berth in the place of the suspended Flip van der Merwe, and the uncapped Franco van der Merwe had been selected on the bench.
Hooker Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss traded places as part of Meyer's rotational policy, with Strauss moving to the bench.
At the back, JJ Engelbrecht was bracketed at outside centre with Jan Serfontein, while Juan de Jongh would come onto the bench if needed.
Meanwhile, prop Tendai Mtawarira would earn his 50th Test cap for the Springboks, following brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis who reached their 50 Test milestones against Argentina in Mendoza in August and last week against Australia, respectively.
Mtawarira will become the 27th Springbok to play in 50 Tests for South Africa.
"What a wonderful achievement for Beast,"Meyer said.
"He is someone who doesn't speak a lot, but you know he always gives everything he has for the Springbok jersey.
"It's always good to see hard work and dedication pay off like this.”
The Springboks would have a sold-out Ellis Park as an ally on Saturday as their record against the All Blacks at the venue suggested.
They have won eight of their 11 encounters at the ground, with the New Zealanders' last victory at Ellis Park dating back to 1997 when they beat the Boks 35-32.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14
Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht
/Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers
(captain), 11 Bryan Habana
, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane
Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts
, 6 Francois Louw
, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben
Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
16, Adriaan Strauss
, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen
Franco van der Merwe, 20 Siya Kolisi
, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23
Jan Serfontein/Juan de JonghNew Zealand:
Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian
Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw
(captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie
Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Dane
Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane,
21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau