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Du Preez out to extend winning record

2015-10-23 14:24
Fourie du Preez (Gallo Images)

London - New Zealand might be the most dominant team in the history of rugby but when they come up against South Africa scrumhalf Fourie du Preez they suddenly become mere mortals.

Since winning the 2011 World Cup the All Blacks have lost only three, and drawn two, of their 52 games for a winning percentage of over 90 percent, and are in the high 70s throughout their history.


However, Du Preez is one of a very rare breed who has a winning record against them, tasting success in seven of his 12 games.

"He has always had big games against them," assistant coach Johann van Graan told reporters after the team went through their paces at Twickenham on Saturday, a day before their World Cup semi-final showdown.

"He is awesome in every game. He is composed under pressure, he has belief in himself and the ability to see things others don't see. A talent can hit a target nobody else can hit but a genius can hit a target no-one else can see. And that is Fourie du Preez."

The scrumhalf is not one to talk himself up or give any insight into what it takes to beat the All Blacks but he exuded a calm confidence on Friday when discussing a match he said was probably the biggest of his career.

"We'll have one or two tweaks and sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn't," said the 33-year-old who came into the tournament struggling with injury but has quickly reinstated himself as a key cog in the Springbok machine.

"Hopefully we'll get into a position where we can execute those plays."

Several other players in the side have experience of beating their biggest rivals - even if they have been on the losing side a lot more often. Bryan Habana has won eight but lost 14, while JP Pietersen (five from nine) and Schalk Burger (five from 15) all respect but do not fear them.

"In the times we've beaten them we probably created seven opportunities and used all seven," said Burger.

"On the flip side for the Springboks, their 10-12-13 combination is a callow collection.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard and centre Damian de Allende each have one win from their three All Black meetings while fellow centre Jessie Kriel has faced them once, and lost.

Du Preez, however, is certain the young trio will step up to the occasion and help South Africa extend their World Cup record against New Zealand to three wins from four.

"All three of them are very confident players and all three are unbelievable talents," he said.

"These guys have really stepped up and deserved to play in this game. I think they will embrace the pressure."

Burger agreed.

"I think we've got a nice balance in our team, where we've got a couple of old hands with thinning hair and then we've got a couple of youngsters, and we draw from their energy and I think if we as the old guard do our job, all they have to worry about is playing rugby and doing what they're good at."

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