Rugby Championship

Reflective All Blacks question own performances ahead of Bok clash: 'We don't like losing'

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  • All Blacks coach Ian Foster said his team has been in a reflective mood, rather being anxious, after losing at home to Ireland.
  • The All Blacks, who are on an unprecedented run of four losses in five Tests, face the Springboks in the first of two Rugby Championship matches, with the first being on Saturday in Mbombela.
  • Foster said the absence of SA teams in Super Rugby is being felt.

In Mbombela

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said the two losses against Ireland that led to their historic series defeat gave them more time to reflect on why they hate losing.

Up until the second Test in Dunedin, the All Blacks had never lost to the Irish at home, but Andy Farrell's charges flipped the script to a point where they claimed a much-celebrated rubber.

That result has put Foster under significant pressure to deliver a positive result against the Springboks when they meet at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

READ | Marcell Coetzee on dropping out of Springbok mix: 'They clearly back the guys they have'

Foster said the occasion of Saturday's 102nd meeting between the sides gives them a lot to play for.

"We don't like losing, just like everyone doesn't like to do so. That always creates an edge in the group, along with a lot of reflection," Foster said.

"The players are reflecting on their own roles, performances, and how they grow. I'd certainly use the word reflection and that's created an edge.

"You dovetail that with where we are and who we are playing against, so we've got quite a great concoction.

Teams:

South Africa

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Willie le Roux

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 1 George Bower

Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Quinn Tupaea

"It's a clear challenge for us and we're excited by it. We want to play better and we probably know that we've never been a great July team.

"It's the start of our year, just like the South Africans and I guess we'll be looking to improve on what we've shown in the first three Tests.

Saturday's clash will be the first between the teams on South African soil since the October 2018 epic that the All Blacks won 32-30.

A key player from that game Ardie Savea remains, while All Black captain Sam Cane, who was injured in that game, will also feature for the All Blacks.

However, those meetings will strictly be limited to Test matches after the dissolution of Super Rugby as it was in 2020 because of Covid-19.

Foster said he missed the presence of the South African teams in Super Rugby.

ALSO READ | All Blacks coach Foster goads his charges to man up: 'The Boks are not one-trick ponies'

"I miss playing the South African teams and I loved it in Super Rugby," Foster said.

"I come back to the different styles, but it's a great rivalry and those are things that you want to have to hone your players.

"Covid-19 has changed a lot of things in the past two to three years and countries have made different decisions.

"I think it's vital for New Zealand and South African rugby to stay tight in their rugby relationship. There's so much legacy and history in this relationship."


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