Most rugby supporters in South Africa and all over the world is looking forward to witness once again one of the epic battles between the Springboks and All Blacks on Saturday afternoon.
With the Rugby Championship done and dusted and the All Blacks again being crown as champions, this much is much more about the almost 100 years of history between these two countries than anything else.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer believe that the All Blacks have the best kicking game in world rugby and if the Springboks wants to beat the All Blacks on Saturday they will have to be able to deal with the men in blacks kicking game.
“If you want to beat the All Blacks you have to be able to deal with their kicking game and they have by far the best kicking game in the world,” Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said. “They will pose a different challenge, Australia keeps the ball in hand, we know exactly what they are going to do and they know what we are going to do. “It is all about execution, discipline and the main thing would be to have no soft moments and use every single opportunity.
Springbok assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher, believes it is all about getting the correct balance with your kicking game against the All Blacks who will punish you on any poor kicking with their ability to counter attack from it.
“Saturday’s focus will be to get the right balance because you don’t want to kick aimlessly and give them opportunities to counter attack,” Loubscher said ahead of the mammoth Test.
The All Blacks see these games against the Springboks as more than just another test match and knowing how hostile it can be for any team to come to Ellis Park and play the Springboks. All Blacks Dagg has turned in some memorable individual performances on the Highveld and will expect nothing else from the crowd and Springboks.
“It’s always a great battle, always down to the last minute and this is where you want to test yourself,” said Dagg. “The unique and ‘hostile’ challenge presented by playing at Ellis Park” – where the All Blacks have won just four times since 1928 – is also one that he is eager to embrace. “When you’re driving there, it’s a lot more hostile, people lining the streets having Barbecues [braais] and chanting away. “It is an eye-opener it’s like driving into the enemy base, it’s pretty hostile. “Like I said, it is where you want to test yourself.”
For the Springboks it must be a case of winning the battles within the battle on Saturday and nobody better knows about just how to win these battles than Springbok great Victor Matfield.
“It is just about the focus in those critical moments,” Matfield told a media briefing at the team’s base in Johannesburg. “It is always going to be a close game against these guys. One or two critical moments will decide these games,” he said. “It is something we are working on – just that belief in the team. Even if you are five points down with five minutes to go to – keep to the structure.”
Matfield do think “Believe” makes a huge difference, “If you look throughout the year, there were two or three Tests they could have lost but they came through and that probably shows the character they’ve got in the team.” Belief is a funny thing. The more you win it becomes a habit, and it is a habit with them. They’ve only lost one game in 42 matches which is unbelievable. “It is just a habit for them to win and they know how to pull through tough games as well.”
Whatever people say this was and always will be one of the epic battles in world rugby, last year we saw a special game, let’s hope the two teams can get close to what they dished up last year….