Rugby: Springboks see win at Eden Park as a calling

By Kevin Putt

It's no surprise that sentiments about Springbok rugby in New Zealand are echoed in South Africa.

I think New Zealanders look at South Africans as tough buggers because they have to live with crime and have to eke out a living in difficult circumstances.

They still see New Zealand, possibly wrongly, as being very much a place of the warrior nation with the Polynesians respected very highly as a formidable foe and the Pakeha boys coming through the same kind of scenario as their white farming mentality over there.

I know the game has moved on but the psyche hasn't.

I know this sounds rude but we didn't have the same respect for Australia, it was something about New Zealand.

The rest of the games mattered little - the one against New Zealand mattered everything and that was how you judged yourself.

There are ultimate challenges you have in life and I happen to know the Eden Park thing for the Springboks is a big one - they want to be the team to break that one.

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We (New Zealanders) have got such a winning rugby culture now that the public get very angry if we don't win by certain scores.

But over there the expectations probably have dropped as New Zealand has forged ahead a bit but a win at Eden Park would really galvanise people over there.

You go back to the greatest All Black-Springbok game ever played and for unifying people and it was the 1995 World Cup final.

They didn't make the film just because South Africa won it, they made it because it unified a nation and had probably the greatest human ever in Nelson Mandela.

So a win at Eden Park will put a lot of belief into the team.

The Springboks see themselves as being highly skilled and felt there was no reason to believe they were any less skilled than the All Blacks but, stepping back as a voyeur in this process, the truth of it is there would be a lot less innovative play in the South African system.

In South Africa it's very much a mentality of physically dominating people - rather than technically and tactically dominating people.


Kevin Putt

Waikato native Kevin Putt played 150-plus games for the Natal Sharks including the 1996 final against the Blues. He was also reserve halfback for the Springboks in nine tests but was kept on the bench by South African great Joost van der Westhuizen. He now works at King's College in Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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