Johannesburg - While the task facing them may be daunting, the Springboks are exuding a quiet confidence that might just be their best ally when they face the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship finale on Saturday at Ellis Park.
The supersport.com website reports that after the exciting climax of last year’s tournament, where both sides produced one of the best games of rugby ever played, the Boks will meet the old foe on the same ground, although the All Blacks win in Argentina has already sewed up the Championship, meaning there is just pride to play for.
Not that this matters with these teams, as the Boks would desperately want to beat the All Blacks this weekend and end a losing streak against the men in black that has happened since coach Heyneke Meyer has been in charge.
But this week the Boks are buoyed by their win over Australia, and while some may say the result flattered them on the scoreboard, they’re more than ready to take on the World Champions, even though a number of players are missing with injuries.
“There is definitely less pressure on the side than last year, I think we have a proud record at home and have always scored tries. We want to go out there and have an attractive game plan, but there is much less pressure. We want to go out there and win,” Meyer said.
“But by saying that you have to be unbelievably clinical, you have to execute every single play. I’m very happy with the discipline in the team at the moment – we only conceded four penalties in the previous game. You have to have an all-round game, and implement the right type of game plan.
“There is definitely less pressure, but you still want to go out there and win. They’re at full-strength, so it’s going to be a tough battle for us. We’re excited to play, and we handle this game like any other game. The guys want to go out there and do their best.
“I must say the previous game took a lot out of the guys, and on Monday and Tuesday I could see the guys were still recovering, but by Saturday we need every single guy to be at his best if we want to beat the All Blacks.”
Meyer says there is no way the team would be so buoyed by the last 10 runaway minutes against Australia that it would cloud their deficiencies in the game.
“I don’t think so, we’re very thorough and clinical when we go through the game. We don’t just look at the good things, we also look at the bad things. If you look at our team, there are a number of guys coming through that are still finding their feet and improving. There are a lot of mistakes we’re not happy with, and you find it in every single game.”
With that in mind they face a tough opponent and are keen to make sure they end up on the right side of the scoreline.
“If we compare to previous games gone by, the All Blacks are a much bigger challenge. If you want to beat the All Blacks, I believe you have to be able to deal with their kicking game. That is a very different challenge to Australia, who keep the ball more in hand.
“Every single game is a different challenge and we know what they are going to do, and they know what we are going to do. It’s all about execution and discipline. The main thing we need is no soft moments, and we need to use every single opportunity. We’ve been in every single game and there were moments when we could have won it, but we didn’t because we didn’t execute and didn’t use our opportunities, and hopefully on Saturday we will do so.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Reid, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Ryan Crotty