Springboks must invoke the spirit of '98 - ex-Bok wing

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Stefan Terblanche. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Stefan Terblanche. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
  • Former Springbok wing Stefan Terblanche looks ahead to the centenary Test between the All Blacks and Springboks and unpacks whether the 100-year rivalry still has the same prestige.
  • The 1998 Tri-Nations-winner talks about invoking the spirit of Wellington and why the Springboks won’t be fazed by Ian Foster’s “put me to sleep” retort in reference to their style.
  • The 37-Test veteran also assesses the All Black class of 2021 in comparison to past New Zealand outfits and reveals what tactics the Springboks must employ to prosper on Saturday.

Stefan Terblanche, who featured in seven Test matches against the All Blacks from 1998 to 2003, is looking forward to the latest instalment in the rugby rivalry which reaches the 100th Test landmark.

After back-to-back defeats against the Wallabies, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has recalled the experienced triumvirate of Lood de Jager, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Townsville. While Australia took the Springboks out of their comfort zone, the men in green and gold can expect an even tougher test against the All Blacks, who have reclaimed the number one ranking and sit atop the Championship with a 10-point cushion.

“There is steep tradition and history when these two giants of world rugby meet,” Terblanche tells Sport24 in an exclusive interview. “It’s great to see the rivalry is still going strong and, even though the centenary Test match won’t be played in New Zealand, it still promises to be a special contest.”

The Springboks have only won one of their last 10 Test matches against the All Blacks but Terblanche believes the current world champions will be up for the occasion and look to return to winning ways.

“All Blacks coach Ian Foster said that when he watched the Springboks play during the British & Irish Lions series, he felt like he was going to fall asleep. It speaks to the fact South Africa has a sound defence and get into the opposition’s faces and put them on their backsides,” he notes. “In spite of negative comments, I don’t think the Springboks will change at all. They will be physical upfront, implement a rush defence and if the All Blacks can get multi-phases going with a defence like that then fair play to them. However, they’ll need to bridge the Boks by getting around or through them.”

Terblanche believes Nienaber’s charges can draw inspiration from the Nick Mallett-coached side in 1998 that famously beat the All Blacks 13-3 in Wellington. Terblanche started on the right wing for the Springboks in the 50th Test match against the All Blacks, which was won courtesy of a try from Pieter Rossouw and a conversion and two penalties from Percy Montgomery. Fast forward 23 years, and the rivals will notch a century of Test meetings. “I have fond memories from the 50th Test and have that cap framed in my son Cai’s room,” reveals the player who beat the All Blacks three times.

Asked how the All Black class of 2021 compares to the all-conquering team of half a decade ago, Terblanche is honest in his assessment. “Five years ago, the All Blacks were world champions and they are definitely not as good a team now as they were then. However, it’s somewhat of an unfair comparison because they were the top team in the world for 10 years running. In my view, that not only placed them as one of the best rugby teams ever but one of the premier sides in world sport.”

The All Blacks are highly fancied to beat the Springboks on Saturday and secure the Rugby Championship but Terblanche believes the current All Blacks side is still a work in progress.  Foster succeeded Steve Hansen after the All Blacks’ 2019 World cup semi-final exit at the hands of England.

 “The All Blacks have been going through some changes and are finding their feet under a new captain in Ardie Savea. However, it doesn’t matter which team they put out onto the field because they have a strong belief in their abilities not only as individuals but also as a unit. They may be yet to hit their stride but are formidable opponents and street-wise between the white lines,” he says.

Despite South Africa slumping to consecutive defeats to Australia, Terblanche is bullish about the Springboks’ chances and believes they will offer the All Blacks a physical challenge like no other. The average score for the 99 Tests is 21-16 in favour of New Zealand and it could be another close affair. 

“The All Blacks will without a doubt try to match the Springboks from a physical standpoint. And John Plumtree, who played and coached in South Africa for a long time, will know exactly what it will take to beat the Springboks. The All Blacks assistant coach, who joined the set-up in late 2019, is aware that his side will have to match the Boks physically in order to gain a foothold in the contest.

“The All Blacks like to do that, but if the Springboks are able to get them on the back foot and they don’t match up to them physically then South Africa have a decent chance of winning the game,” he predicts. “However, I don’t think the All Blacks will change much in terms of their playing style. They boast great backs and, as always, the men in black will come hard and fast,” Terblanche concludes.

Saturday's milestone Test match kicks off at 09:05 (SA time).                                                     


All Blacks

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea


15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn

Previous interviews:

Neil de Kock

Stefan Terblanche

Marcelo Bosch

Annelee Murray

Gary Gold

Alan Quinlan

Joe Pietersen

Deon Carstens

Paul Wallace

BJ Botha

Bruce Fordyce

Eddie Andrews

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