Preview: All Blacks V Springboks
Fri, 14 Sep 2012 4:09a.m.
By Steve McMorran
New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks will get a chance to measure their progress in the year since the World Cup when they meet for the first time in the new Rugby Championship on Saturday.
The All Blacks and Springboks didn't meet at the Cup - South Africa's campaign ended in the quarterfinals and New Zealand's with overall victory - but the match in Dunedin will offer a valuable comparison.
Since the nations last met, a month before the World Cup, both have changed coaches and lost senior players, and Saturday's game will provide an indication of which team has best adjusted to the overhaul that often comes in a post-World Cup year.
New Zealand is unbeaten in five tests since the World Cup. Steve Hansen, who took over as head coach from Graham Henry within weeks of the final, has quickly established his own regime, creating a new coaching team and blooding a host of players including scrumhalf Aaron Smith, winger Julian Savea and the locks Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano who are members of Saturday's 22.
Heyneke Meyer has taken over as Springboks coach from the enigmatic Peter de Villiers, providing an immediate counterpoint to his predecessor by returning to a solid and conservative style. The Boks form since the World Cup is mixed; they edged England in a close-fought series in June and have a win, a draw and a loss in their first three matches in the Rugby Championship.
While it retains the No. 3 world ranking behind New Zealand and Australia, South Africa's early World Cup exit and unimpressive form since have weakened its hold on that standing.
Meyer has led a return to the 10-man style of the 2007 World Cup-winning team and Saturday's match may indicated whether that style is still practical or dated.
On recent form, the All Blacks should win comfortably on Saturday provided they can control the mistakes that have riddled their play against Australia and Argentina. They seem close to clicking and producing a performance to match their 60-0 win over Ireland in June.
New Zealand still counts South Africa as its most formidable opponent and Hansen knows a victory over the Springboks is required to fully frank his coaching regime.
"New Zealand's history with the Springboks is such that they will always be the traditional foe," Hansen said. "Australia is more like a big brother and you always want to beat your bigger brother, but playing South Africa is the ultimate and has been all my life and still is.
"This week is all about what we are going to be allowed to do against the Boks. And what we need to do to be able to stop them doing what they want to do. They are a big side, they are physical and we have to match that physicality and passion and desperation they have got."
South Africa's early tests in the Rugby Championship suggest they will play a 10-man game based around flyhalf Morne Steyn, who is convinced a conservative style plays to South Africa's strengths at this time.
"We've won a Tri-Nations with the same gameplan and in 2007 we won the World Cup with these tactics," he said. "We have to stay with this strategy.
"All teams that win the Super 15 are the teams that kick the most. The Crusaders, the Reds, the Bulls when we won it. At the Bulls we get some grief for kicking too much. It's not kicking the ball away; it's kicking for a purpose. People out there don't have the stats."
The 2007 success was built around players such as Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and John Smit and the current team can't pretend to duplicate their experience or influence.
A 10-man style requires near perfect execution and conditions. This Springboks team will need to eliminate it recent errors, and overcome an experience deficit if it is to prevail on Saturday.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu; Keiran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Victor Vito, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Tamati Ellison.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morné Steyn, Ruan Penaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Beast Mtawarira. Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, Dean Greyling, Andries Bekker, Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Juan de Johngh, Patrick Lambie.
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15/09/2012 3:52:50 p.m.
Great read... loved it
14/09/2012 7:51:18 a.m.
Saffer Sid wrote:
Can someone tell Meyer and Morne its not 2007 anymore!! FFS!
14/09/2012 7:32:41 a.m.
What a horrific series of comments. How many Tri-Nation's had South Africa won in comparison to the AB's? Sweet fanny Adams that's how many.
It's forgotten that their world cup winning team of 2007, had by far an easier run to the final in comparison to Australia and New Zealand.
I mean Fiji and then Argentina? Not to mention the bollocks rules of the time helped their style of play. Further, while I agree kicking wins matches. I struggle with the negative Rugby SAF teams play.
Where Aus and even more so NZ are better is because they can win ugly but also play a fast running game. SAF has no plan B. Sure they'll win the odd game against the AB's. But look to see the All Blacks winning margin over SAF increase over the years thanks to one dimensional jerk offs like Steyn.
Also note the AB's and Aus will eventually pull away from SAF in World Cups. Who ever said the Super competition was a window on the RWC was deluded.
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