Spring­boks take aim at All Blacks


THE 2017 Spring­boks will find out if they are the real deal or im­pos­tors when they play the All Blacks in Al­bany to­mor­row, ac­cord­ing to coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee.

While the Boks are un­beaten this year and drew with the Wal­la­bies in Perth last week, Coet­zee said at his team an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day that the chal­lenge against the World Cup hold­ers was on an­other scale al­to­gether.

“Coach­ing against the All Blacks in New Zealand is mas­sively chal­leng­ing be­cause the odds are not with you, but that is what you have to get the play­ers to buy into – the chal­lenge of win­ning when you are writ­ten off,” Coet­zee said af­ter mak­ing three changes to his team that played last week.

Jean-luc du Preez comes in at flank in place of the crocked Jaco Kriel and there is a well-de­served start for Lions strong­man Ruan Dreyer for in­jured Coe­nie Oosthuizen (bro­ken arm), at tight­head prop.

Pi­eter-Steph du Toit makes way for rested Franco Mostert, de­spite the for­mer hav­ing ar­guably his best game of the sea­son against the Wal­la­bies last week.

Mostert is be­ing re­warded for his con­sis­tent hard work all year for both the Lions and the Boks.

“The play­ers are gear­ing up for a mas­sive chal­lenge,” Coet­zee said.”You don’t have to say a word to them about what to ex­pect against the All Blacks at home. It comes with the ter­ri­tory, but we feel a lot more com­fort­able than last year, when a lot of things were not in place and self-be­lief was maybe lack­ing.

“This year we had much bet­ter prepa­ra­tion time be­fore the French se­ries, which helped tremen­dously, as op­posed to last year when it was bit of a rush job and the play­ers have fed off the se­cu­rity of good prepa­ra­tion and I think ev­ery­body can see that the guys are en­joy­ing the game now.”

Crit­i­cally, Coet­zee said his play­ers had made progress in clos­ing the gap in terms of con­di­tion­ing... against the All Blacks, who have a knack of win­ning games in the fi­nal quar­ter be­cause they are fit­ter.

“You can see the re­sult of that is that we have had min­i­mal in­juries,” Coet­zee said. “We did a lot of work with the Su­per Rugby coaches, we have been build­ing with the team in the Test matches and we are all ex­cited about now see­ing whether we are in­deed on an up­ward tra­jec­tory. This match will give us a re­al­ity check of where we re­ally are...

“You can­not switch off for a sec­ond against the All Blacks. We have seen how Ar­gentina con­ceded points last week in that cru­cial pe­riod of the five min­utes be­fore half-time and the five min­utes af­ter, not to men­tion that ob­vi­ous fi­nal quar­ter when they put the foot on the ac­cel­er­a­tor.”

Coet­zee be­lieves the bench will be key.

“More than ever it has be­come a 23-man ef­fort,” the coach said. “Games can be won and lost in the fi­nal quar­ter when the im­pact play­ers are on. Num­bers 16 to 23 have to be as good as the start­ing 15 and just as pre­pared. Ev­ery­one of our squad is as well pre­pared as pos­si­ble and we are hun­gry for a heck of a Test match.”

All Blacks: 15 Damian McKen­zie, 14 Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Wil­liams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beau­den Bar­rett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sa­muel White­lock, 4 Brodie Re­tal­lick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames. Subs: 16 Codie Tay­lor, 17 Wy­att Crock­ett, 18 Ofa Tu’un­gafasi, 19 Scott Bar­rett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Per­e­nara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 An­ton Lienert-Brown.

Spring­boks – 15 An­dries Coet­zee, 14 Ray­mond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Ser­fontein, 11 Court­nall Skosan, 10 Elton Jan­tjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etze­beth (c), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Mal­colm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kit­shoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane,19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pi­eter-Steph du Toit, 21 Fran­cois Hougaard, 22 Han­dré Pol­lard, 23 Damian de Al­lende.


FIT FOR PUR­POSE: Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee is happy that his team’s con­di­tion­ing is much im­proved.

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