All Black Ma’a Nonu wary of Springboks’ midfield ahead of Ellis Park test

All Blacks No 12 Ma’a Nonu is expecting a stiff challenge from the raw Springboks midfield duo.

Ma’a Nonu isn’t listening to any chatter about the inexperienced Springboks midfield being easily fractured.

Nonu, who partners-up with Conrad Smith in the All Blacks’ midfield at Ellis Park on Saturday, is preparing for his last match on South African soil.

After the World Cup Nonu will link with French club Toulon but with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams challenging for the No 12 jersey, his immediate priority is to anchor a place in the All Blacks’ starting side ahead of the global tournament.

The vastly experienced Nonu and Smith will face a raw Springboks midfield in Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel at Ellis Park.

When it was put to Nonu that de Allende’s defensive technique, which one statistic provider has reported has resulted in him missing 30 tackles in Super Rugby, was suspect he lodged a counterclaim.

“That’s a surprising stat because I have seen him tackle,” Nonu said. “When we (the Hurricanes) played the Stormers this year we did a lot of analysis around the No 12 and he was the main ball carrier.

“I don’t agree with that stat. Hence why he is playing for South Africa at No 12. We better measure up and be prepared.”

While Nonu and Smith have played 180 tests, de Allende and Kriel have earned just five caps.

This will also be Smith’s final game in the Republic. It is also his first test appearance this year, having been rested from the opening matches against Samoa and Argentina.

Williams, like playmaker Dan Carter, was told to rest rather than fly to South Africa after forming a physically intimidating 12-13 partnership with Nonu in the 39-18 win over Argentina last weekend.

Nonu started at centre against the Pumas, and after some early handling errors he scored a fine individual try by bursting through four defenders.

The Springboks, who lost another player when experienced right wing JP Pietersen withdrew with a hamstring complaint this week, will again field Handre Pollard, 21, at first five-eighth.

Coach Heyneke Meyer will be hoping Pollard can forge a partnership with de Allende, 23, and Kriel, 21.

Nonu said the All Blacks can do all the analysis they want on the Springboks, but it was crucial they immediately react when confronted with the unexpected.

“We never assume stuff. There is so much analysis we can do on a team but players really react on their instincts.

“We can look at all the clips of how their backline is going to play but from nine to 15 they are pretty dangerous.”

Asked what was the toughest midfield he had encountered in his 95-test career, Nonu nominated Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie.

“I remember vividly in 2009 when we played the South Africans in Durban and Bloemfontein and we lost those matches.

“We played them again in the third test in Hamilton (and lost) and that’s the pair I remember being the toughest I have come up against.”

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