Cape Town - As they prepare for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test at Newlands, All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster says the Springboks bring out the best in his charges.
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Despite winning all five of their Rugby Championship games to date, Foster admitted that his side did not fire on all cylinders during their 2017 campaign.
The All Blacks started with a 54-34 win over Australia in Sydney, but took their foot off the pedal after leading 54-6 after 48 minutes.
The following week in Dunedin the Kiwis trailed the Wallabies 17-0 and it was only a last-gasp Beauden Barrett try that helped them to a 35-29 win.
Against Argentina in New Plymouth, the All Blacks trailed 22-15 with 30 minutes remaining, before running out 39-22 victors.
However, they left their best for the Springboks in Albany, romping to a 57-0 victory to condemn the South Africans to their worst ever defeat.
“That was a special game, there’s no doubt about that,” Foster told reporters at the All Blacks' hotel in Newlands on Tuesday.
But Foster was not happy with the other performances.
“You’ve just got to look back at our first Test in Sydney, we had a pretty special 40, 50 minutes and then a pretty forgettable next 30. Then the next week we went to Dunedin and got out of jail.”
When probed whether the Springboks bring out the best in the All Blacks, Foster responded:
“Yes, there’s a pretty simple answer to that. It’s hard to explain but when you’re a player out in the middle, and it’s a South Africa-New Zealand rugby game, there’s no quarter given, if it’s anything but a 100% commitment in your mind, then you feel it and it hurts. For us, they’re always special games. And particularly when you come over here. We haven’t played at Newlands for a long time (since 2008), it’s a ground steeped in history and these games are special, we love them.”
The All Blacks have dominated their rivalry with the Springboks in recent times, winning 10 of the last 11 Tests, but according to Foster Saturday’s game remains as significant as always.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re playing the South Africans in South Africa and these are special Test matches. If you look through the last three of four Test matches over here - there’s been some amazing games - and we’ve had to put everything on the line to get the result we wanted.”
Both sides will name their respective line-ups on Thursday.