Rectifying the mistakes they made against Australia in defence will be crucial for South Africa when they take on New Zealand in a Rugby Championship match in Townsville, Australia, on Saturday. And it has been an area of focus for the Springboks this week as they prepare for the historic 100th test against the All Blacks.
A lot will be at stake when the Springboks line up against the All Blacks. The Springboks need to win with a bonus point to keep alive their hopes of defending their Rugby Championship title.
The All Blacks leapfrogged the World Champions and replaced them at the top of the World rankings on Monday, following their victory over Argentina and the Wallabies beating the Boks last weekend.
The Springboks missed a lot of tackles in their two defeats to Australia and know they need to be at their best against the All Blacks.
“The errors that we made were errors that we don’t normally make. Sometimes, I suppose it happens like that. Sometimes, you miss a tackle; a guy who has a 95% tackle completion normally misses a tackle, but those are battles you win and lose in games, and the key thing for us is to stay focussed,” says Jacques Nienaber, Springbok coach.
For the All Blacks, Saturday’s match will be about maintaining their position at the top of the Rugby Championship log, while for the Springboks, it will be about bouncing back.
“Every test is a big occasion for us. I think we are in the position that we are currently … we just try and focus on bouncing back and try to rectify the mistakes and errors we made in the previous test. Hopefully, we get a good result,” says Lukhanyo Am, Springbok centre.
The last time the Springboks beat New Zealand was three years ago while the All Blacks won their last encounter at the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. But Nienaber is confident of a positive outcome because of the way preparations have gone.
“We certainly are training and the work that we’ve put in, in the last two days, has been excellent. So, I think we are aligned in terms of the team and in terms of the strategy we want to do. We had a good prep up to now,” says Jacques Nienaber.
Both Rugby Championship matches between the Springboks and the All Blacks will be played in Australia because New Zealand closed its borders last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.