Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says his young side has the self-belief to beat the world champion All Blacks in their Rugby Championship clash at FNB Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
"We truly believe that we can beat them. We know we have to have an 80 percent kicking record, unbelievable defence, take every single opportunity and put them under pressure," he said.
"It is difficult to beat them, but if you don’t believe you can beat them, then there is no use going out on the field.
"Then you are already in defensive mode and if you go in with a defensive mindset against the All Blacks, there is no way that you can beat them."
Meyer named an unchanged starting XV - the first time he has done so this season in consecutive Tests - with the only change on the bench, where Coenie Oosthuizen takes over from Pat Cilliers as prop replacement.
The Springbok team, especially the forward pack, received a confidence boost in their last encounter against New Zealand in Dunedin three weeks ago, after a solid performance against a settled outfit.
While the All Blacks beat the South Africans 21-11, the match could have ended with a different result had the goal-kickers found their target on the day.
The Springboks left 20 points off the board due to defective place-kicking with six penalty and conversion attempts missing the target.
Meyer on Tuesday admitted that the side’s below-par goal kicking had been a concern.
"Obviously it is a big concern. I don’t want to put more pressure on the kickers because they really are kicking well in training," he said.
"If you look at the whole season I think it is only one game that we kicked more than 50 percent and at international level, the guys kick at 75 percent plus.
"We probably could have won seven out of eight games if we kicked better."
In their 31-8 victory over Australia last weekend, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar took over the kicking duties from flyhalf Johan Goosen who missed his two attempts at goal.
It is likely that Pienaar will once again be trusted with the kicking tee with Goosen nursing a bruised heel on his planting foot.
While the Boks will be looking to pierce the New Zealanders’ defences with attacking rugby, Meyer said it was imperative that they were accurate with their goal-kicking on Saturday.
"The All Blacks are a quality outfit, a lot of experience, great captain with great leadership and if you want to beat them you have to kick 80 percent plus, so I am worried about that," Meyer said.
"I know for a fact you aren’t going to outscore them just by scoring tries, you have to kick your goals.
"The reason being, is if you put them under pressure you have to convert that into points otherwise. If they play with freedom and aren’t under pressure, they can punish you.
"But there are great kickers in the team, and it is just a matter of time, and hopefully on Saturday they will click and kick all the goals."
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Patrick Lambie