Cape Town - Former Springbok centre Brendan Venter says he would be "very surprised" if the All Blacks run away with proceedings against the Boks in Wellington on Saturday.
Venter expressed his views via a column for the Stuff.co.nz website where he said the Springboks' 35-17 victory over the Wallabies last weekend meant more than the All Blacks' narrow 20-16 win over Australia.
Venter wrote: "The Springboks delivered some good rugby at Ellis Park and played with great intensity in the process. Meanwhile, all things being equal, the All Blacks should have lost.
"With New Zealand having struggled against Argentina in Buenos Aires, neutral observers would almost say that the Springboks could go into the Rugby World Cup dress rehearsal against the All Blacks as favourites. Steve Hansen's charges are definitely not firing on all cylinders…"
Venter, who is also a former Springbok assistant coach, added that he predicted a close encounter at Westpac Stadium.
"I would be very surprised if this Saturday sees a runaway victory for the All Blacks. If that were to happen, it would be an absolute disaster for the Springboks because they have so many things in their favour at the moment. Besides their 35-17 win over the Wallabies, Rassie Erasmus was proactive by sending 13 Springbok players in advance to New Zealand to prepare for this all-important Test match.
"Even if the Boks don't beat the All Blacks on Saturday, the non-negotiable is that it is another fighting, competitive performance from Erasmus' men. The critical aspect is that, with 10 minutes to go, the visitors must be within a score of winning the Test."
Saturday's Test is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).
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
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