Mini-battles to add to subplots
A GRUDGE match like the All Black v Springbok one is settled by a number of mini-battles that feed into the game war. Both teams have the armoury to outmatch the other but the All Blacks often have the better game-breakers. The rule is run on contests that will have a bearing on the outcome.
15 – Damian McKenzie v Andries Coetzee
It’s a case of comparing a thoroughbred and a workhorse but both player fulfil important roles for their teams. McKenzie has been termed by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee as an X-factor player and one who can walk on water. He’s proved that week in and out with the Chiefs even though he couldn’t inspire the team to a Super Rugby title. Coetzee makes sure the lines are cleared at the back and Boks attack from the right places. He also offers more solidity than McKenzie when it comes to dealing with the highball, which is something Coetzee will definitely target. The All Blacks though will also see Coetzee as a defensive liability.
12/13 v 12/13 – SonnyBill Williams-Ryan Crotty v Jan Serfontein-Jesse Kriel
Both centres are a case of mixing and matching different personalities and characteristics to have working midfield combination. The All Blacks have missed Crotty dearly. He may not be flashy but he is mightily effective from an offensive and defensive perspective. The same applies for Jan Serfontein, who like Crotty has made his centre partner look very good through his spadework. Kriel is explosive and will ask questions of NZ's midfield defence. Kriel dealt well with Australia's Tevita Kuridrani but NZ’s backs often have the benefit of working with front foot ball. That alone will keep the Bok midfield defence on its toes.
9/10 – Aaron SmithBeauden Barrett v Francois Hougaard-Elton Jantjies
The Springboks have lost an important cog in their halfback axis with Ross Cronje withdrawn because of a stomach bug. Cronje’s all about crisp service and less on histrionics. The same has to be said of Smith, who possesses the best pass in world rugby and keeps the fringe defence honest. Barrett knows how important Smith is to the All Blacks. — Reporting by Khanyiso Tshwaku
THE Springboks are aware that wins in New Zealand are once-in-alifetime occasions.
Only two Bok coaches in Nick Mallet and Peter de Villiers know how it feels to coach a Bok side that wins in New Zealand.
Even then, there was a 10-year gap between the wins even though De Villiers collected victories in consecutive years.
That tells you everything you need to know about the task that awaits the Springboks this morning when they face the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship clash at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany.
It is a challenge the Boks have to embrace if they are to entertain any hopes of ending their eight-year drought.
The Boks don’t have World Cup winners in their ranks and that’s not a bad thing. There’s no past baggage to deal with and they only have two survivors from their last encounter against the All Blacks, which is one they would like to remain hidden in history.
Captain Eben Etzebeth and Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira had to watch on helplessly as the All Blacks tore them from limb to limb during last year's 57-15 massacre at King’s Park.
Etzebeth alluded to the game as one of their turning points even though