Johannesburg - Don’t expect the Springboks to run everything at the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship showdown at Ellis Park on Saturday.
According to the supersport.com website, rather expect a sustained, varied attack to search for the bonus point victory needed to win the game.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer may have raised eyebrows with his openness in going for the bonus point victory needed to win the Rugby Championship, but it was made clear afterwards that the Boks aren’t exactly going to try and run everything at the world champions.
Springbok assistant coach Johan van Graan went to great lengths to explain that simply because they are targeting the four-try bonus point, it doesn’t mean they will suddenly attack from everywhere.
Instead the Boks will be looking to put in a sustained effort and vary their play - something that will be a necessity if they are to stop the All Blacks from scoring a bonus point themselves this weekend.
The New Zealanders are excellent counter-attackers and will punish mistakes harshly, as the Boks found out in Auckland.
And while much of the focus has been on the positive mindset the Boks need to adapt to win this game, they need to get the victory first before concentrating on the bonus point. In all likelihood, that means setting small goals for themselves during the game, coupled with the magical motivation that Meyer has given to the teams before and a self-belief that needs to be prevalent to ensure that they come out on top.
It isn’t a secret the Boks need to surmount the hurdle of beating the All Blacks first. That in itself is a task that few teams around the world get right, simple because the New Zealanders are street-smart, ruthless when they get an opportunity and look to find your weakness to exploit.
The Boks are still smarting from Auckland, but have put the disappointment of a poor refereeing decision behind them, and while the Kiwis were crowing on about their victory, there was a quiet determination in the Bok team to get it right at Ellis Park. The truth is that the Boks did play poorly in stages in Auckland, but that it was difficult to put an exact determination of their strength as they had to play the majority of the game with 14 men. It is a statistic the All Black management choose to ignore when talking about the game.
There is a growing confidence in this Bok team, and one victory which will confirm they have moved forward is one against the All Blacks. The players know this and they measure themselves against the old enemy. The coaching staff knows this all too well. Despite winning 9 out of 10 tests this season, they will remain judged on the performance against the All Blacks this weekend.
This is why the coaching team have been drumming the message to build a scoreline into the players. They know that if they can build a healthy lead, the game will open up. If they can keep their composure on defence, the turnovers will come and if they can rattle the All Blacks, the holes will open up.
It won’t be easy, but to beat the best team in world rugby never will be. The Boks need to take a massive step up, be disciplined and sustain that for 80 minutes. And that starts with doing things well in every facet of the game.
Van Graan echoed those sentiments, reminding all who would listen that his team has a massive task on their hands this weekend.
“New Zealand are the current world champions, they are the Rugby Championship champions, so its all about us trying to catch them and trying to beat them. It will be a special place on Saturday at Ellis Park,” he said.
“You can’t get to four tries, you need to start with one and then build to the four. We’ve been lucky enough to score a few tries here. Our first try at Eden Park was a try from the maul. It is about varying our play and looking for a weakness. I’ve watched them and I haven’t seen a lot of weaknesses in their team.
“We will have to play very clever and be very clinical. Tactically they have been very good so we’ve got to make one or two plans to get territory first. What they did in Auckland very well was to pin us in our own half, especially when we had 14 men.
“Its all about getting to the right position and taking the opportunities. Maybe we only score one try this weekend and maybe we score five. I don’t know what is going to happen, it is still a test match, and I haven’t seen any easy test matches.”
The Boks know this all too well. Neglect the basics against a team like the All Blacks and pretty soon the bonus point won’t be the goal, but survival.