All Blacks hope Goosen will be cooked

By Michael Brown

Johan Goosen of South Africa fends off Aaron Smith of the All Blacks during the Rugby Championship. Photo / Getty Images.
Johan Goosen of South Africa fends off Aaron Smith of the All Blacks during the Rugby Championship. Photo / Getty Images.

Johan Goosen might represent the future of Springboks rugby but the All Blacks are quite keen to remind the young first five-eighths who rules in the now.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer bowed to public pressure and handed Goosen his first test start in place of the one-dimensional Morne Steyn against the Wallabies last weekend, with immediate success. They played with more width and verve than with Steyn at the helm in their 31-8 defeat of Australia at Loftus Versfeld and the All Blacks are expecting that to continue when the two sides meet in Johannesburg on Sunday morning (NZT).

It will be a tasty atmosphere with the game played out in front of 90,000 people at Soccer City and while the All Blacks will come under considerable pressure they know Goosen will face even more, assuming he overcomes a bruised heel to play.

He has a prodigious boot and enjoys front-foot ball but isn't renowned as a defender.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster stopped short of saying they would target the 20-year-old who made his Super Rugby debut only this season but admitted a few of their bigger units would test him out.

"We have our own gameplan we think is good for us," Foster said. "Some of that will highlight different areas where we want to attack and, I guess as a 10, you have to make the tackles whether you are an All Black or a Springbok.

"He will be put under pressure, just like anyone. Hopefully if we attack well we will expose him in one-on-one situations, but nothing really that we're targeting him."

The All Blacks will attempt to play their fast-paced game, but it ran into a green wall three weeks ago in Dunedin. In that match, the Springboks piled into the forward exchanges and lumped the ball into the air before finally succumbing 21-11.

They won't totally abandon that approach - a leopard can't change its spots - but the All Blacks assume they will face something different with Goosen.

"They have a different guy at 10 and certainly they looked like they had intentions to play a little bit more than they did against us in Dunedin, and I expect that to continue," Foster said.

"It's still South Africa v the All Blacks. They may chuck a few different things at us, and they seem to have a lot of confidence from the way they played last week [against Australia] but, for us, our processes remain the same.

"They play a slightly different game to us. This means we are still expecting the odd high ball, and still expecting a tough physical battle through their forwards. Some things won't change."

The All Blacks aren't likely to make many changes to the side that beat Argentina 54-15 in La Plata last weekend. It was easily their best performance of the season as they ran in seven tries - five were scored by wings Cory Jane and Julian Savea - to claim the inaugural Rugby Championship title.

Both lock Luke Romano and centre Conrad Smith needed stitches after heavy knocks but Foster expected them to be fit for selection. Richie McCaw sat out most of their first training session overnight (NZT) as he nurses the haematoma he picked up against the Springboks in Dunedin but is also expected to lead the side.

A win would represent their 16th in succession, putting them in sight of the record of 17 for tier one nations (Lithuania won 18 consecutive games from 2008-10), and still on track for a perfect winning calendar year.

They took considerable satisfaction from their win over the Pumas and Foster said the senior players played a significant role in this.

"There was also a massive desire for us to front and play really, really well on what was a pretty special occasion [being the first game in Argentina.]," he said. "I would like to think this Saturday is no different to last week for us."


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