Rugby Championship

Boks building but not there yet - Strauss

2016-09-16 07:16
Adriaan Strauss (Gallo)

Christchurch - South Africa captain Adriaan Strauss had no excuses for his side's poor run of form this season as they face their toughest challenge so far against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The Springboks have struggled under new coach Allister Coetzee, losing to Ireland in June, while they needed a 17-point burst in the final 10 minutes to overcome Argentina 30-23 in their opening match of the southern hemisphere competition.

They have since lost 26-24 to the Pumas in Salta and then were poor in losing 23-17 to an equally out of sorts Wallabies side last week in Brisbane.

Strauss's team now face an All Blacks side who have taken their game to a new level since winning last year's World Cup, hammering the Wallabies twice and then running away from a belligerent Pumas side in the final 30 minutes last week.

"There is definitely progress (but) there's still a lot of hard work that lies ahead," Strauss told reporters in Christchurch on Friday. "We are not the team we want to be... and we know we are not there yet.

"The criticism and questions from outside are fair and part of the game, but we know where we are heading."

The Springboks were presented with their jerseys on Friday by 2007 World Cup winning captain John Smit, with the symbolism poignant.

Smit was the captain of the last Springboks side to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand – a 32-29 victory in Hamilton on September 12, 2009.

Since that loss the All Blacks have not been beaten in New Zealand, a streak of 43 matches, and are on a 14-match unbeaten run since last year.

Local media have suggested the buildup to the Test has failed to capture the imagination of the New Zealand public, no doubt a symptom of the differences in current form of the two teams.

Recent history has also favoured the world champions. Despite the closeness of several of the games, the All Blacks have won eight of the last 10 clashes between the sides.

Coetzee, however, said he felt the rugby world would still take notice on Saturday, given the long history between the traditional rivals.

"Whenever South Africa have played New Zealand in the past, its always been a big battle. The world stops and looks at a match like this," he said.

"We are looking forward to it because tradition and history tell you that it is going to be a physical battle and skill sets will be tested.

"We playing against the world's No 1 team and it's going to be a great test of where we are as a team and how much progress we have made up until now."

Teams:

New Zealand 

15 Ben Smith 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

South Africa

15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Damian de Allende

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Fixtures
01 October 2016
South Africa v Australia, Pretoria 17:05
02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires 00:10
08 October 2016
South Africa v New Zealand, Durban 17:05
Argentina v Australia, London 20:30
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