Rugby Championship

NZ to ‘jam’ a win, says Mitchell

2014-09-12 10:28
John Mitchell (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks will “unsettle” the All Blacks but the hosts will still do just enough to win the Castle Rugby Championship Test in Wellington on Saturday, predicts SA-based former New Zealand coach John Mitchell.

The SuperSport pundit and also former Golden Lions coach was speaking on the Boots & All programme on Thursday.

In previewing the Test (09:35 kickoff, SA time), which will mark the 100th appearance of Bok captain Jean de Villiers, Mitchell said he felt the world champions would “jam” a victory.

“I think potentially the Springboks will put the All Blacks under more pressure than any other team in the world (could). They’ll create pressure at scrum time where there’s been some improvement, and certainly at lineout time with (Sam) Whitelock out.

“I’m worried about (NZ replacement Jeremy) Thrush - for me he’s very much just a provincial footballer, a try-hard player. Losing Whitelock in that lineout is critical.

“But whether South Africa will be able to create enough pressure with the ball (to win) is a big, big question.

“There are also some South African defensive weaknesses the All Blacks will seek to exploit. Someone like Jannie du Plessis was very guilty in that area at Eden Park (last year) and Victor Matfield is also poor at defensive tackle.

“Then you’ve also got Cornal Hendricks who will be tested on the edge, because the All Black wings have the highest tackle-breach and offload stats in the competition.”

Mitchell said he sympathised with axed flyhalf Morne Steyn because everyone was focusing on his crucial failure to find touch from a late, supposedly pressure-relieving penalty in the late loss to Australia in Perth.

“But it was more about the transition then required on defence (as the Wallabies counter-attacked) and the Boks didn’t deal with that properly.

“Stop blaming the kick: there were lots of mistakes in the subsequent defence.”

Speaking of Steyn’s replacement, the inexperienced Handre Pollard, Mitchell said: “It’s definitely about the pack gaining momentum; all about creating pressure for the Springboks, because they’re not a space-orientated attacking team.

“The only way Pollard will enjoy this Test match is if the Bok pack dominates the All Blacks ... the Boks can unsettle this New Zealand forward pack who’ll be under pressure.

“(But) I think the All Blacks will jam a win.”


New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Cory Jane

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Damian de Allende

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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