Jerome Kaino (Gallo)
Weybridge - When it comes to crunch Test
rugby, there is little that New Zealand and South Africa do not know about each
other's game. But familiar foes or not, the All Blacks expect Saturday's Rugby
World Cup semi-final to go up a notch in skill and intensity.
Settling into their base in leafy Surrey
after their clinical nine-try quarter-final rout of France in Cardiff, the
world champions began to turn their attention to a Springboks side who they
have beaten in 10 of their last 12 meetings.
The last match up came three months ago in
Johannesburg when the All Blacks, 20-17 adrift with six minutes left, needed a
late Richie McCaw try to get them home.
South Africa had triumphed by two points in
the same Ellis Park stadium a year ago and New Zealand forward Kieran Read said
the All Blacks needed to be wary.
"Two teams who have got a lot of
history over the last few years, played some pretty outstanding test matches so
looking forward to a big challenge," Read said.
"History has shown that prior form
means nothing when it comes to a finals game. We've got to turn up and
certainly take lessons from the games we've played against them in the past.
"We know their style. They know us. So
it's all part of turning up and playing well. They'll be as confident as we
The mantra coming out of the All Blacks
camp was needing to raise their intensity again, analysing the physical
challenge that the Springboks will pose but focus on honing their own game.
"We've had a good look at them. We'll
park that quite early then focus on ourselves," flank Jerome Kaino said.
"Regardless of what style they are
going to bring we need to try and improve and focus on what we need to do.
"Their forward pack is a huge part of
their game, it's what gets them going. I think we'll see much of the same but
for them to intensify and lift their skill level."
For centre Sonny Bill-Williams, the 62-13
demolition of France, the biggest ever World Cup quarter-final victory, was New
Zealand playing "live or die footie".
"You saw a bit of an attitude shift
from the boys," he said, before sounding a cautionary tone.
"Even though they (South Africa) lost
their first game to Japan, they have gone from strength to strength. They took
a hit early in the competition so they know what it takes now."