All Blacks have ‘clear heads’ for Boks test, says Read

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

DUR­BAN:

New Zealand cap­tain Kieran Read says his side go into to­day’s fi­nal Rugby Cham­pi­onship clash against South Africa in Dur­ban with “clear heads” af­ter a tough week in which scrumhalf Aaron Smith was sent home.

Smith re­ceived a one-match sus­pen­sion from New Zealand Rugby af­ter ad­mit­ting he had a li­ai­son with a fe­male in a dis­abled toi­let while on team duty at Christchurch air­port last month. Read avoided re­fer­ring di­rectly to the in­ci­dent at his cap­tain’s news con­fer­ence in Dur­ban on Friday, but said the team were feel­ing no ill-ef­fects of their hec­tic travel sched­ule and the loss of their reg­u­lar num­ber nine.

“It’s nice to get to Friday and just know we have to put the fin­ish­ing touches to the prepa­ra­tion and go into to­mor­row with clear heads,” Read said.

“We just need to turn up and play our brand of rugby. Right now we are in a good space.” The All Blacks are chas­ing a 17th test win in a row, which would equal a record mark for top-tier rugby na­tion they have achieved twice be­fore.

“His­tory sug­gests it’s pretty tough to move past this level where we are at now,” Read said. “We want to go and get 17, but you can’t be think­ing about records once you are on the field.” Read dis­agrees with for­mer All Black World Cup-win­ning coach Gra­ham Henry that the Boks are on a down­ward spi­ral, de­spite a dif­fi­cult year for the side in which they have lost three times in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

“Gra­ham Henry likes mak­ing re­marks about op­po­si­tion teams to be hon­est,” Read said with a chuckle. “We truly re­spect them. The his­tory of our two teams, we know how much it means to put on the Spring­bok jumper, which is the same as the All Black jumper for us.”

The num­ber eight said the All Blacks were ex­pect­ing a fast match and are ready for a phys­i­cal for­ward chal­lenge.

“We have got our plan to play a re­ally quick game and as a for­ward pack I think the most im­por­tant thing is to be phys­i­cal with the South Africans. They have a gun kicker in Morne (Steyn) who can slot them from any­where. So if we give them op­por­tu­ni­ties we will be fac­ing a score­board that is tick­ing over against us.” — Reuters

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