Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Springboks name unchanged side

In a rarity for international rugby, the Springboks have named an unchanged side to meet the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Coach Heyneke Meyer said he had not been lulled into any false sense of security after last week's victory against the Wallabies and they had been tough in their selection debates.

"We know we have to make an unbelievable step up because this is the best team in the world we are facing," he said.

"The thing is we are going to be facing them at their best which is an unbelievable challenge so although it is great to have the same team, these guys need to make a huge step up."

Several Springboks had flu but the medical staff were confident they would all recover and be fully fit for Saturday's clash of the unbeaten sides in the Rugby Championship.

They were well balanced and had been defending well but were steeling themselves for a huge battle especially in the lineouts.

"You have to be at your best in every facet of the game. They have a brilliant running game, a brilliant kicking game, they can defend well, they scrum well and they are good in lineouts and that's why they are world champs and have been together for quite some time.

"There is experience there so you can't gamble, you have to go with the best you believe in and you can't just focus on one area."

Meyer said his Springbok intentions had always been to get them playing a more expansive style. The opposition worked you out too easily if you were a one-dimensional side.

Sometimes matches were narrower in their focus but Meyer and his staff had been shifting the side's attitudes and skills to offer alternate patterns.

"But it starts up front where you have to win quality ball and put the opposition under pressure.

"I am really happy we can score tries but on Saturday I will just take a one point win as well. I will take the ugliest win in the history of the game as long as we can win."

Tests at the highest level were always about coping with pressure. The Boks wanted to play a more rounded game and they had made a strong start in the championship with twin wins against Argentina then victory against the Wallabies.

Respect came naturally for the rivals in this test, motivation was not a chore and it was all about delving deep into detail to try and find flaws in the All Blacks.

They had an improved kicking game and were very well conditioned so the Springboks would have to outwork and out think them.

"You always prepare better against the All Blacks because you know you are not going to get easy tries and you have to work for every single point and that's why we have to try a lot of different things," Meyer said.

"We will try one or two new things and that's always a risk but if you do the same thing against the All Blacks you are never going to beat them."

South Africa: Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers ©, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Juandre Kruger, Siya Kolisi, Jano Vermaak, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

- NZ Herald

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