All Blacks: Kaino expects tough Springboks battle

Jerome Kaino is ready for a tough battle against an understrength Springboks side. Photo / Getty Images
Jerome Kaino is ready for a tough battle against an understrength Springboks side. Photo / Getty Images

A weakened South Africa will arrive in Wellington this week licking their wounds after copping a hiding from Australia but All Blacks loose forward Jerome Kaino is not underestimating them ahead of their Tr-Nations test on Saturday.

The Springboks, who left 21 players at home to nurse injuries, were humbled 20-39 by the Wallabies in Sydney last Saturday and look ripe for the picking for an All Blacks side who romped past Fiji 60-14 in Dunedin a day earlier.

The world champions' injury woes were extenuated prior to the match because Johann Muller returned home before the test due to a hamstring strain while fellow lock Flip van der Merwe was forced from the field against the Wallabies.

They have called up uncapped Sharks lock Gerhard Mostert, and the squad to face the All Blacks have a decidedly second string look to them.

While they might be light on heavy hitters with first-choice players including the likes of Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana sitting at home, Kaino will not be taking them lightly despite the loss to Australia.

"I think they showed towards the end, when they get their game going how dangerous they are. I don't think we're going to read too much into the scoreboard.

"They definitely have a lot of threats in their team.

"They've got a lot of players that can create things from nothing, like their wingers ... and some of the forwards that they brought off the bench (Ryan) Kankowski and Jean Deysel those players are X-factor players," Kaino said yesterday.

While many of the Springboks chosen for the Australasian leg of the Tri-Nations may be unknown quantities at international level, Kaino was wary of them.

"People don't rate the players that they've picked to travel over here, but in my mind I still see a lot of them as threats and see that team as a good team."

His thoughts were echoed by All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan, who said while they lacked some big names in their squad they still packed a punch.

"I've played a lot of rugby with them in the Super 15 and there's a core group of guys who are pretty experienced, John Smith and Ruaan Pienaar, and those guys you can't underestimate them at all," he said.

"It's always tough travelling so I imagine they'll get a lot out of last night's game and they'll be humming this week," Cowan said.

The Southlander, who had revelled in taking money off his fellow All Blacks after the Southland beat Canterbury to reclaim the Ranfurly Shield on Saturday, said while New Zealand fans might expect a big win the team were intent on treating the test as a chance to continue building ahead of the World Cup.

"It's no different to last week against Fiji, it's no different when you're playing a test match, these guys grow another leg when they're playing the All Blacks so we've got to treat it as another test and try and grow our game," he said.

The All Blacks, who rested five Crusaders and Blues hooker Keven Mealamu for the test against Fiji, are expected to have close to a full complement of players to pick from for the match.

Wing Hosea Gear and utility back Richard Kahui are due to be available after hamstring strains, while fullback Cory Jane's dislocated finger may be ready for a return for action.

The long-term injured, Isaia Toeava, Tony Woodcock and Israel Dagg, are all on course to play in the national provincial championship before being available for test selection.

- NZPA

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