Heyneke Meyer's lavish praise heaped on the All Blacks this week has been described as mind games by his opposite Steve Hansen, who has told his team to take no notice.
Springboks coach Meyer has called the All Blacks the best team to ever play the game, adding his players would have to play the match of their lives if they were to be successful in Sunday's World Cup semifinal at Twickenham.
Hansen, a coach well versed in mind games and the use of the media as a motivational tool, responded to his friend's comments with a knowing smile. "He's a cunning wee devil is Heyneke," he said today. "He's been praising us all week and whilst I know he means some of it, at the same time they are getting ready to rip our heads off, and we need to be in that same state.
"If we get caught up in lapping up all the praise we won't be in the right mental state to play.
"I's a tactic. I don't think he'll be saying that behind closed doors to his team. And you can see that in the wee comment that came from their young lock [Lood de Jager]. He said while they don't fear us, they respect us [but] it's not very much.
"I'm sure H wasn't too happy he said that because he's trying to paint a picture that they will have to play the best game they've ever played in their life. That's his way of motivating his team."
Hansen feels the excitement generated in the media and other external sources about the All Blacks' performance in the 62-13 thrashing of France could also serve to knock his team off their game.
Springboks bring out the beast
"The hardest thing this week in preparation is coming off the back of such a great win because externally everybody has got a little carried away with themselves and ... have made some outrageous statements.
"Internally there's an emotional high that comes from playing like that and it's really important to get a full stop as early as possible. You've got to enjoy that moment - you can't hide from it, but you've got to put a full stop on it otherwise you don't go great-to-great, you go great-to-struggling.
Springboks want to rip our heads off
"We've acknowledged that to ourselves and we believe we've done that.
"I don't think we've played our best rugby. We went through the pool stages and you blokes [media] were telling us we were struggling which I really appreciated because it kept us on edge, and then we played really well. We played to standard we expect to play at, and there were a number of reasons why we did that - it was life or death, you either win or you go home."
All Blacks team to play South Africa at Twickenham on Sunday:
15. Ben Smith
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder
13. Conrad Smith
12. Ma'a Nonu
11. Julian Savea
10. Daniel Carter
9. Aaron Smith
8. Kieran Read
7. Richie McCaw (c)
6. Jerome Kaino
5. Sam Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Owen Franks
2. Dane Coles
1. Joe Moody
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams.
- By Patrick McKendry in London