Johannesburg - The All Blacks will not be surprised to see more yellow cards from South Africa in Saturday's Tri-Nations Test at FNB Stadium in Soweto.
All Blacks assistant coach Steven Hansen on Wednesday directly and by implication referred to the four yellow cards the Springboks had conceded in the three Tri-Nations Tests to date. The All Blacks were not afraid of conceding cards, he said. "We must just play within the rules and play well," said Hansen.
The four Springboks yellow-carded were Bakkies Botha and BJ Botha for professional fouls and Jaque Fourie (dangerous tackle) and Danie Rossouw (kick), Jaque Fourie and Bakkies Botha were also cited and suspended for a dangerous tackle and head butts respectively and are currently under suspension.
When asked about the inclusion of Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe who will be starting a Test for the first time on Saturday, Hansen said they had seen enough of him in the Super 14 when he played for the Bulls to know that he is "a big boy that sees himself as a rough and tough sort of player" who gives away a fair amount of penalties "and gets yellow-carded a wee bit.
"It's much of the same that we had before, I guess," he said, probably referring to Bakkies Botha who is serving out a nine-week suspension after head-butting Jimmy Cowan in the first Test in Auckland.
Hansen said the All Blacks expected the Boks to run more with the backline they've selected. "I should imagine there will be a lot of running with lots of areal ball as well," he said.
They were, however, uncertain what the other first-start player in the Springbok side, Francois Hougaard, would bring to the game, and Hansen admitted they did not have much footage of the new scrumhalf.
"He is fast, that we know," he said about the young player who has been on the wing throughout the Bulls' Super 14 campaign.
Despite winning the first two Tests comprehensively, Hansen was wary of the Boks. "Any wounded Springbok side is dangerous," he said.
He emphasised Saturday's Test was not about last year when the All Blacks were beaten three times by the Boks, but about their performance on the day.
"It's not about what they did to us last year, it's about performance. If we win it will mean we are heading in the right direction."
Hansen, who also coached Wales, said they were happy with the preparations to date.
"It's been a good week, we're really happy," he said.
Hansen expected another good performance from the All Blacks forwards. "It's the expectation that the forwards will keep on playing well and go on and do the job again," he said about the pack that subdued South Africa in the two Tests played so far.