ABs fit, well to face Boks
Wed, 03 Oct 2012 6:43p.m.
By Jim Kayes
The All Blacks side to play South Africa in Sunday's final Rugby Championship match in Soweto is named in just under 24 hours.
With the title already won, the temptation's there for the coaches to make wholesale changes but they're more likely to tinker with the starting team.
The All Blacks’ fully fit squad is the envy of the injury-struck Wallabies and Springboks.
“We've travelled well and in good shape," says All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster.
Foster says the team is going into the match confident following the nine-tries-to-two drubbing of Argentina.
"There was a massive desire from us to front and to play really, really well in what was a pretty special occasion. And I guess I'd say this week is no different to last week for us," he says.
It’s no different too for Keven Mealamu, whose 99th test is likely to again be via the bench. It will be his 21st against the Springboks, a challenge that's never waned.
"The challenge is always up there, especially playing them at home,” says Mealamu. “Being a forward you know what's coming, it's brutal, it's physical, it's probably one of the biggest challenges you can get as an All Black forward."
And while the Springboks have won just two of their 13 tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand, the All Blacks fare a lot better in South Africa; in the latest 10 years they've played the Springboks 12 times in the republic and they've won six of them.
Mealamu says the secret to that success is simple.
"I like to think that we prepare well. We take the travel out of it. A lot of teams talk about travel, we like to put that to the side and really prepare for what's ahead."
And so far Mealamu's ahead in the wins ratio in South Africa - of the nine tests he's played there, he's won five.
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