All Blacks even more of a threat

2009-07-31 00:00

SPRINGBOK assistant coach Dick Muir says that the All Blacks will be even more of a threat in the second Tri-Nations international against South Africa in Durban tomorrow.

Muir said yesterday that the All Blacks will be even more committed after their 28-19 defeat in Bloemfontein last weekend.

New Zealand believe they are well placed to win the Durban Test after coming back strongly in Bloemfontein.

“I think they’ve targeted this Test as the one they can win, so we know there will be a much higher level of competitiveness in this game,” Muir said.

“We’ve got huge respect for the All Blacks and we know it’s not going to be easy, so we’ll have to be on top of our game.”

Muir is confident that flyhalf Morné Steyn, starting for the first time in a full-strength Springbok side, will rise to the challenge.

“Steyn has certainly shown his worth, particularly in the Super 14,” said Muir. “He had an outstanding Super 14 and he’s one of those players who controls the game really well. He’s also very balanced — he’got a good kicking game and a good running game.

“He can vary it quite considerably and he’s really accurate at his goal kicking as well, which is a bonus for us.”

Springbok vice-captain Victor Matfield said that it was crucial that South Africa won their home games if they were to realise their ambition of winning the Tri-Nations

“If you don’t win all your home games it’s very tough to win this competition. We’ve got two more games to play at home so this one is very important for us to keep that momentum.”

Bruising Springbok lock Bakkies Botha told reporters that his recent two-week ban will not dull his aggressive streak and he said he will always be the enforcer in the Bok pack.

Botha said he enjoys carrying the “enforcer” label.

“I’ve played like this for nine years and I’m not about to change now. I’m not going to start putting in grubbers, or getting fancy, that’s just not me.”

Botha said that Brad Thorn (All Blacks) and Nathan Sharpe (Wallabies) did the same job — “and we don’t change”.

“The tougher the opposition, the happier I am and it’s great facing that haka because it brings out the best in you.”

Botha agreed with Muir and said the entire Bok squad is expecting an improvement from the All Blacks.

“We believe we can win back-to-back Tests against them. They can take it up a notch, but so can we. But you never underestimate the All Blacks.”

Springbok centre Jean de Villiers told reporters that the South Africans have still to produce the complete performance.

The All Blacks have also promised they will be better tomorrow following improved preparation for the Test.

Vice-captain Mils Muliaina said yesterday that the mood in the All Black camp was positive.

“We’ve had a full week to prepare this week and we’ve had the time to get things right,” Muliaina said.

“A lot of our confidence comes from our second-half comeback and we did put ourselves in a position to win last week’s game.

“A lot of guys have come back from injury and they now have another game under their belt.

“We’ve come a long way in the last week and we believe we’ll be better this Saturday,” the fullback said.

The All Blacks trailed 17-3 two minutes into the second half, but closed to within four points at 20-16 down before Jaque Fourie’s 72nd-minute try settled the South Africans and the Test.

The Test kicks off at 5 pm and thousands of tickets are still available.

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