Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Boks desperate but likely to stick to kicking game

Patrick Lambie. File photo / NZPA
Patrick Lambie. File photo / NZPA

The Springboks say they have been written off and therefore have nothing to lose against the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday but those hoping for a more expansive game plan as a result are likely to be disappointed.

Patrick Lambie, an attack-minded first-five or fullback who has battled for game time in the Rugby Championship, uttered the fatalistic comment today before the team resumed preparations in Auckland but also suggested the Springboks' obsession with a limited kick-chase game plan was unlikely to change.

"The feeling is we've almost got nothing to lose this weekend," he said. "No one's expecting much from us it seems and we're getting written off again. There were actually a lot of positives which came out of Saturday [loss to Wallabies] and that's what we'll focus on and look to build on."

The Springboks, with Morne Steyn calling the shots at first-five, have been criticised for the amount of kicking they resort to and Lambie said the covered Dunedin stadium, rather than help open up their game, could help their territory-based tactics.

"With the amount of kicking we do, that's going to be beneficial to us," 21-year-old Lambie said. "We don't have to worry about any of the conditions or face the conditions that New Zealand did in Wellington in the weekend."

With Steyn off target with his goalkicking in Perth on Saturday, Lambie or fellow youngster Johan Goosen could come into the frame at first-five which would increase their team's chances of playing with ambition.

South Africa will travel to Dunedin on Thursday morning but question marks remain about the fitness of tighthead props Jannie du Plessis (hamstring) and Pat Cilliers (elbow). With Eben Etzebeth suspended for two weeks after being found guilty of headbutting Australia's Nathan Sharpe in Perth, they are also light on locks, although they are likely to start with current squad members Andries Bekker and Flip van der Merwe in the second row.

Bakkies Botha, now playing for Toulon in France, has been put on standby but the South African camp was still unable to confirm this morning (Tues) whether the controversial lock or a prop would be making the long trek over.

Botha would be an interesting choice given his disciplinary record over the years, with Lambie stressing the need to be smart against the All Blacks.

"Our game management and decision making needs to be the best it has been," he said. "Obviously with the game-breakers that New Zealand has our defence has to be spot on."

Lambie, who has visited New Zealand twice this year already with the Sharks in the Super Rugby competition - he was in the side which lost to the Chiefs in the final - followed the Springboks' party line on how well the All Blacks are playing this year.

His head coach Heyneke Meyer has already said the South Africans would need a lot of luck to be able to beat Steve Hansen's men in Dunedin, despite the incomplete nature of the All Blacks' three victories in the competition.

"Those two performances against Australia were really good, especially the 22-0 one here in Auckland and I think the conditions played an important part against Argentina," Lambie said. "New Zealand are always strong. They're the best in the world and the world champs."

- APNZ

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