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.