The Springboks were left under no illusions that they are in ultimate rugby country when they walked into the arrivals hall at the Wellington airport yesterday – and straight into a barrage of TV crews and reporters who gave coach Peter de Villiers and captain John Smit a grilling over the composition of the tour squad.
When the Boks arrived in Sydney a week and half ago, there was zero media interest at the airport, but New Zealand is another rugby animal altogether. Smit and De Villiers sidestepped the predictable questions with relative ease although Smit had to tread carefully around the hot topic of “injured” A list Springboks currently being in a training camp in Rustenburg under the watchful eye of new technical analyst Rassie Erasmus.
“I really can’t comment on what is going on back in South Africa,” Smit said. “I have been on tour for a while. I would have been to there to know what is happening.”
While the under-strength Boks have been heavily criticised for failing to live up to their pre-match talk in Sydney, they appear to be undaunted in the face of an even sterner challenge on Saturday.
At least that is the how it appears on the surface.
Young buck Lwazi Mvovo went as far as to proclaim that the plan is to emulate the feat of the 2008 Tri-Nations Springboks, who won in Dunedin.
“That year the guys had a bad defeat here in Wellington but picked themselves up to win the following week at Carisbrooke,” said the winger, who was one of the better performing Boks in the loss to the Wallabies.
“That is the goal – to beat the All Blacks. We have learned a lot from the first game, we are wiser for the experience and we want to do our country proud after the disappointment of last week,” he said.
“It is not going to be easy against the All Blacks but we are once bitten twice shy after turning over so much possession against the Wallabies. We lost the breakdown battle, and we know the All Blacks pride themselves on how they play in that area, so obviously we are focussing heavily on taking them on there.”
Like a number of the other Boks, Mvovo will be facing the haka for the first time but he says the youngsters will not let it distract them.
“We will accept their challenge, but it is also a time when we have to keep concentration. We must not let the opposition get off to a good start for the second week in a row,” Mvovo said. “We were slow out of the blocks last week and very nervous. If more of us could have got our hands on the ball earlier in the game, we might have settled quicker.
“The thing is, we are all humans, the All Blacks, too! We just have to bring our A game from the first whistle – then we will be fine. ”
The All Blacks, meanwhile, seemed to have settled on their starting line-up, according to the local press.
And despite resting a number of Crusaders players, it is an ever formidable combination. And While all-action hero Sonny Bill Williams is not likely to start he is set to come on the second half to team up with local star Ma’a Nonu, which will mean a massive midfield.
All Blacks (probable): 15 Mils Muliaina 14 Cory Jane 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma’a Nonu 11 Zac Guildford 10 Dan Carter 9 Jimmy Cowan 8 Richie McCaw (capt) 7 Adam Thomson 6 Jerome Kaino 5 Sam Whitelock 4 Ali Williams 3 Ben Franks 2 Andrew Hore 1 Wyatt Crockett
by Mike Greenaway
Leave a Reply