All Blacks primed for rattled ’Boks

2011-07-29 09:00

Wellington – The All Blacks are relishing the prospect of facing a rattled Springboks team when the arch rivals put their World Cup build-ups on opposite tacks in their Tri-Nations clash here tomorrow.

The lop-sided nature of the rival line-ups gives the All Blacks an ideal opportunity to fine-tune a new game plan while the Springboks focus on blooding depth in their squad.

More than half the All Blacks run-on side, led by skipper Richie McCaw, could expect to be in the frame of an “A” team, but the “B” strength Springboks have only four starting players with eight or more caps.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry, faced with the burden of an expectant New Zealand public demanding a World Cup win, has revealed he is experimenting with new ideas that even his most senior players have never tried before.

“They’ve been playing for 20 years, so to change something that old is sometimes quite difficult.

“I thought we were about 50 percent in Dunedin,” he said of the muddling 60-14 performance against Fiji last week.

“It would be nice to play about 65-70 percent (against the Springboks). Get an improvement on last week. The opposition will be a lot stronger, but that will be good.”

McCaw added that while the World Cup was the highlight of the year, it was important for the All Blacks to dominate their Tri-Nations matches.

“You get this job right first,” he said after leading the team through their captain’s run today.

“Certainly the excitement of what’s coming (in six weeks) is there. But, you can’t hold back. The attitude of this team is you never do that and I’ve never gone on a rugby field holding anything back.”

In the Springboks camp, with most of their leading players at home recovering from injury, captain John Smit’s biggest concern was lifting morale after their 39-20 drubbing by Australia last week.

Their spirits were not helped by reports from South Africa that the so-called injured players were at a secret World Cup training camp, although this has been vehemently denied by the team management.

“We were hoping to come here in better spirits but having performed so poorly (against Australia) in the things that we trained so hard on, it was a hard defeat to digest,” he said.

“My biggest challenge has been to try and get the guys to keep renewing their own self belief in what they can do and what got them here.

“With all that’s been read and said it’s very difficult to keep renewing that belief in themselves and in each other.”

The Springboks are particularly light on experience in the forwards where, among the loose trio, Danie Rossouw has 55 Test caps while Jean Deysel and Deon Stegmann have seven between them.

Gerhard Mostert is on debut, his locking partner Alistair Hargreaves has played three Tests and props Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling have played one Test each.

It allows the All Blacks to experiment with Adam Thomson starting in the back row while interchanging roles with openside flanker McCaw. And 65-Test lock Ali Williams continues his comeback after missing two years through injury.

Teams (15-1)
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Ben Franks, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett.

Reserves: Corey Flynn, John Afoa, Jarrad Hoeata, Liam Messam, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams.

South Africa: Patrick Lambie, Bjorn Basson, Adi Jacobs, Juan de Jongh, Lwazi Mvovo, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Danie Rossouw, Jean Deysel, Deon Stegmann, Alistair Hargreaves, Gerhard Mostert, Werner Kruger, John Smit (captain), Dean Greyling.

Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Ryan Kankowski, Ashley Johnson, Charl McLeod, Wynand Olivier, Odwa Ndungane.

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRL)

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