Rugby: All Blacks wary of becoming complacent in Durban test

By Campbell Burnes

Coles got through a full 80 minutes in Buenos Aires, scored a try, made 10 tackles, two offloads and two breaks.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
Coles got through a full 80 minutes in Buenos Aires, scored a try, made 10 tackles, two offloads and two breaks. Photo / Brett Phibbs

This is no dead rubber for the All Blacks.

Aside from the fact every game has meaning, Sunday morning's test is against the Springboks which should be motivation enough for a side that took 68 years to win a test series in South Africa.

Hooker Dane Coles is up for it.

"Obviously the All Blacks jersey is a massive motivation, but those little things keep you motivated, to be part of a team that writes a new chapter in the All Blacks legacy is special," says the 44-test rake.

Coles got through a full 80 minutes in Buenos Aires, scored a try, made 10 tackles, two offloads and two breaks. Just another solid night at the office for the world's best hooker.

But there will be no complacency at Kings Park in Durban. Aside from the drive to equal the world record tier one winning streak, Coles will be facing combative Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss, who delivered a man of the match display for his country in the dour 18-10 win over the Wallabies in Pretoria.

The All Blacks are enjoying the fact they are in Durban, where they have not played since falling 31-19 to the Boks in 2009, a time where the Springboks were dominant and defeated them three times in the one season on the way to the Tri Nations title. Kieran Read (off the bench), Jerome Kaino and Owen Franks played in that match, and will not have forgotten.

"I've been to Jo'burg a number of times, even at Super [Rugby] level. It's refreshing [coming here]. I think the All Blacks lost last time here, too. That's awesome and a good challenge for us. It's good to be in Durban and experience a new venue with the All Blacks," says Coles.

The All Blacks will be on high alert for a Springboks side that ground out the win at Loftus, where they edged ahead of Australia into second on the Rugby Championship ladder.

They will also be expecting an aerial bombardment from No10 Morne Steyn, who scored all 18 points last weekend.

"Morne is a quality player. I thought he and Elton [Jantjies] have played well for South Africa, and Elton played well early in the Rugby Championship. To have two good choices at 10 ... it does flag a slightly different style, but it worked pretty well for them at Loftus," said All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster.

"We have to keep pressure on their kickers but also be smart with territory. They played a pressure game against Australia and deserved the points they got. They'd probably be the best country in the world at taking those opportunities."

But that doesn't mean Foster expects South Africa to slavishly adopt a kick-first mentality.

"They kicked 25 times [against Australia], which isn't a high number in a test match. I don't think they kicked too much. But if the counter-attacking chances are there, we want to take them.

"We're not just preparing for a kicking game. In the last four tests we've played here [in South Africa], there's been a lot of fast, open phase play."

In that 2009 Durban test, Steyn, in his rookie year as a Bok, scored all 31 points in an astonishing virtuoso display that saw him score a try and kick nine goals, still the most points any player has recorded in a match against the All Blacks.

- NZ Herald

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