Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Boks on charm offensive ahead of Eden Park challenge

The Springboks have arrived in Auckland fresh from their groundbreaking victory over Australia and have quickly laid on the charm, saying the All Blacks will lose little with Sam Cane playing at No7 instead of Richie McCaw.

Their dominant 38-12 victory over the hapless Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday was the first time they have beaten Australia there and they come to these shores in good form. It was an emotional victory for coach Heyneke Meyer, who wiped tears from his eyes at the fulltime whistle as his side went to the top of the Rugby Championship table.

Meyer's team reported no major injuries after the victory, which is more than could be said of the All Blacks who have lost skipper McCaw for four weeks with a medial knee ligament strain after he left the Waikato Stadium pitch during the 28-13 win over the Pumas.

However, Meyer believes Cane will fit so well the All Blacks won't need to change their game plan at all.

"Obviously I have a lot of respect for Richie, he is one of the best players to have ever played the game. I've said it a few times, he's a great player.

"But they've still got great leaders with Kieran Read there and a lot of other guys there as well. But there's only one Richie McCaw and it will be a big blow for them.''

He added: "One of the things I know about New Zealand rugby is that they have probably the best open-sides going around. He [Cane] is a quality player.

"They've won a lot of games without Richie as well so they won't change their game plan. We know what to expect. We think the breakdown will be a war as it usually is, especially away from home and especially in New Zealand.''

Meyer called the test for the lead of the Championship the "ultimate challenge, and tougher than we've ever had before''.

"We're totally underdogs but we like that tag. We're in a win-win situation and we can't wait to get going.''

- APNZ

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