All Blacks in Durban test preview -My two cents worth -All Blacks by 15

THE All Blacks have had a regal presence in Durban this week that you would expect from ultra champions, with curious onlookers never far from their team hotel and training field to get a glimpse of a truly champion team.

Seldom has Durban sold out for a Test match in the professional era but that is the case as even Springbok supporters flock to see a rare chance of the back-to-back World Cup champions in action at Kings Park tomorrow.

And after the Kiwis’ historic World Cup triumph at Twickenham this time last year and their unbeaten run in 2016, there is another milestone in their sights tomorrow in that they can equal the world record of 17 Test wins (for tier one nations) that is shared by two previous All Blacks vintages plus the Springboks of 1997/98.

To their credit, the Kiwis this week for once have admitted that an outside motivation is accompanying their usual unshakeable focus on winning each and every Test match.

They want this win more than most, according to coach Steve Hansen who said that if this current group wanted to be recalled as great, “then they have to do something ‘great’, and getting this record will confirm them as being more than just another All Black team.”

In other words, Kings Park must fasten its seat belt. The Kiwis are coming and they are determined to conquer.

Let’s clutch at straws. The Springboks at least have history on their side. The All Blacks have played eight Tests in Durban and lost five of them, the last of them in 2009 when current Springbok flyhalf Morne Steyn scored all 31 points in a 31-18 win.

He and Bryan Habana are the only players remaining from that match for the Boks, and the faithful will see that as an omen. But that is all that it is.

A more current and sobering reflection is that the All Blacks take the field tomorrow having scored a staggering 29 tries this season, and a record 205 points (for them) in a season, with this match to go.

In their path will be a highly motivated Springbok side that will take hope from the manner in which they combated the All Blacks in the first half of the corresponding match in Christchurch earlier this year plus the belief that came from a character-building win over the Aussies last week in Pretoria.

Grasping at straws? Many would say so.

‘Yes we are playing against the world’s best team. They have had the most continuity in coaching staff and players, and have great systems,” Coetzee said. “But our motivation comes from within and is not external. We are not out to try and prove the world wrong because we are being written off. That is not how we operate as Springboks. We understand history and we respect our rivalry with the All Blacks.

“We will be up for this game, we love and understand the magnitude of a Springbok v All Blacks Test match in South Africa. We have learned from Christchurch that we cannot flinch for a second over the 80 minutes,” Coetzee said.

“This week will crucially come down to gain-line dominance, that is what we are preparing for,” the coach added. “We know we can more than hold on our own in the set pieces, but to negate their lethal attacking ability, we have to rule the gain line and the set pieces.”

Coetzee added that in respect of the gain line, he was hopeful that French referee Jérôme Garcès, would police the advancing All Blacks loose forwards.

As far as his team selection, Coetzee has had mixed fortunes, although he would have known early in the week that Jesse Kriel would not recover and that Habana would.

Habana’s inclusion is a big lift for the Boks. He is a proven match winner and a player with genuine aura. As expected, Faf de Klerk returns at scrumhalf for injured Rudy Paige and the unavailability of Jesse Kriel means yet another new midfield combination, although this one looks more promising than most of the combinations that have started this season.

Damian de Allende is in his preferred position of No 12 and Juan de Jongh in his best position of 13.

Springboks – 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Willie le Roux.

All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.

Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 George Moala

By Mike Greenaway

PS Thank heavens for the Boks sake the bloke on the right is retired ,but Steve Hansen on the left is still around -My two cents worth -All Blacks by 15

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