Everyone in NZ sees All Blacks as underdogs - former No 9

Mark Robinson and Tana Umaga (Getty Images)
Mark Robinson and Tana Umaga (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Former New Zealand scrumhalf Mark Robinson says the All Blacks go into Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks as underdogs.

In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Robinson said South Africa's 36-34 win in Wellington last year has changed perception.

"When we last spoke ahead of the clash in Wellington in 2018, I remember I was quite convinced that the All Blacks would easily beat the Springboks at the Westpac Stadium. I'm going to change tack this time and say that South Africa are definitely the front-runners. I think almost everyone in New Zealand is expecting the All Blacks to go in as underdogs. The Springboks have been touted as favourites and rightly so," Robinson said.

Robinson said he was not impressed with the All Blacks' performance in their narrow 20-16 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires last weekend.

"The All Blacks looked very average against Argentina in round one of the abbreviated Rugby Championship. They were laborious in terms of some of their plays and their backline attack was very fractured a lot of the time."

But Robinson also warned: "As we know with every All Black side, after a sub-par performance one week they tend to fix it and right the wrongs the following week. The Springboks shouldn’t expect their hosts to lie down and for it to be an easy run...

"The one thing I am excited about is the Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett 10-15 axis. I think it could be the start of a bit of a master plan from Steve Hansen in terms of his thought process.

"Mo'unga's goal-kicking was in the high 80 percent range in Super Rugby. He is a more consistent goal-kicker than Barrett and has shown maturity in Super Rugby and with the All Blacks over the last three seasons. He has been blooded into the All Black environment really well and has earned the respect of his peers and grown the confidence, so that he can drive and direct the team from flyhalf."

Saturday's Test in Wellington is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).

READ Mark Robinson's full Q&A interview with Sport24


New Zealand

15 Beauden Barrett; 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane; 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 George Bridge

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel

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