A day on from Allister Coetzee's suggestion the All Blacks could be vulnerable in certain areas, the Springboks have reverted to respectful type ahead of a test between two old rivals.

Privately, the Boks' brains trust will be identifying and preparing to exploit all sorts of perceived weaknesses in an All Blacks team which has vacillated from sensational to plain sloppy this year, but in public there is only a charm offensive.

That is the Springbok way, but it is true for both teams, who get on as well as any two rugby nations thanks largely to the friendship which developed between former coach Heyneke Meyer and Steve Hansen.

Assistant coach Johann van Graan, the only survivor from Meyer's reign which finished with his resignation following the 2015 World Cup, has been to New Zealand enough times to know how difficult it is to beat the All Blacks here and he doesn't want to hand Hansen any extra ammunition.


The Boks' last victory on these shores was in 2009 - a 32-29 victory in Hamilton. Since then the All Blacks have won seven straight at home, including the controversial victory at Eden Park in 2013 won 29-15 by the All Blacks after hooker Bismarck du Plesis was sent off following two yellow cards (the first for a big but legal hit on Dan Carter).

"We haven't really spoken about the past too much," van Graan said. "Obviously I've been here a few times before. The last game in Auckland brings back a few memories in 2013. We got really close in 2014 with one scrum to go with one minute left in a 14-10 loss in Wellington and last year in Christchurch [a 41-13 thrashing]. You learn from every test match... obviously we want to improve."

The South Africans will know they could get results with defensive line speed at North Harbour on Saturday, but adding to their difficulties is the uncertainty around Hansen's back three selections. Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie and Israel Dagg are likely if fit, but Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder - two very different players - are also in the mix.

"I can't predict what team they will select," van Graan said. "I have a lot of respect for all the players in their squad and a lot of respect for their coaching staff, who are good friends of ours."

Wing Courtnall Skosan, who knows most of the All Blacks well through his time with the Lions but hasn't played a test against them, said: "They've got special players all around the whole squad. I don't think you should focus on just one guy or three guys... it's a team effort and if we cover all our bases as a team hopefully we can get the result at the weekend."

Continuing a theme, van Graan added: "They have a fantastic scrum - I think they have won 30 out of 30 scrums on their own ball in the last six tests. They are above 95 per cent in their lineouts, they have scored the most tries from scrums in the world this year. Their defence is special. Sam Cane is probably the world's leading opensider. Their halfbacks [Aaron] Smith, [Beauden] Barrett, [TJ] Perenara have had fantastic years, so no real weaknesses that I can see."