Jon Cardinelli

Boks aim for ‘ultimate’ scalp

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen in action against the All Blacks last year Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen in action against the All Blacks last year

Heyneke Meyer has encouraged the Springboks to dream big and go for a rare victory at the New Zealand fortress of Eden Park, reports JON CARDINELLI in Auckland.

Last Saturday's landmark victory against the Wallabies was as much a mental triumph as anything else. The Boks recorded their first ever win at Suncorp Stadium, and also collected their ninth victory on the trot. They've improved physically and tactically in recent times, and have proved that they can win big matches away from home.

This all bodes well for the toughest assignment in world rugby: a visit to Eden Park. The All Blacks' last defeat at this venue was back in 1994, and they have not lost to the Boks at this ground since 1937.

If Meyer's charges are to break another record this Saturday, they are going to have to produce something very special. As good as they were against the Wallabies in Brisbane, they will need to be even sharper in a battle with the best side on the planet.

The Boks arrived in Auckland on Sunday night, and news from the medical staff is that no serious injuries were sustained in the 38-12 win against the Wallabies. Meyer should have a fully fit squad at his disposal ahead of the next clash against the All Blacks, and as the Bok coach intimated, the visitors will need all hands on deck.

'They're the world champions, they're No 1 in the world. They're expected to win at home, and I suppose that places them under pressure,' said Meyer. 'We'll take the underdog tag. I still believe that we have a long way to go, but that doesn't mean we don't believe we can win this Saturday.'

Both Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers said after the victory in Brisbane that the Boks had taken massive mental strides in the space of a few short weeks.

Meyer reeled off the number of records that had been broken since the start of the Castle Rugby Championship: a first-ever win at Soccer City, a first win against Argentina in Mendoza, and a first win in nine attempts at Suncorp Stadium.

This side may not be the finished article, but they will be confident that they can push the trend-setting All Blacks close this Saturday.

The season is already a success when compared to that of 2012, where the Boks drew in Mendoza and lost to the Wallabies in Australia. The Boks lead the log at this stage of the Rugby Championship, and yet Meyer has encouraged the team to stay hungry for more success.

'We've set high standards for ourselves. A lesser team would be content with a two from three record [on the road], but we want to win every game. We won't need any extra motivation in a game against the All Blacks at Eden Park.

'I spent the better part of last week convincing the guys that it was possible to win [in Australia and New Zealand]. They started to believe that, as the week progressed, and the belief was shown in the performance [at Suncorp Stadium]. It won't get any easier, as we've got a very tough schedule, but the guys believe it's possible.'

It's been four years since the Boks last recorded wins against both the Wallabies in Australia and the All Blacks in New Zealand in the same calendar year. You have to go all the way back to the 1998 Tri-Nations for the Boks' last undefeated tour of Australasia.

This Saturday, the Boks will have an opportunity to record yet another first. They've beaten Argentina in Mendoza, and Australia in Brisbane. Now the big one beckons, the result of which could determine the outcome of this competition.

The last time the two sides met in New Zealand, the Boks outplayed the All Blacks and would have won if not for the failure of their goal-kickers. The team still remembers that clash with some regret, although Meyer feels the 2013 contest will be very different with both the Boks and All Blacks enjoying a good run of form.

'They underestimated us in that game last year. We had drawn with Argentina and lost to Australia, but we were still motivated to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand.

'We were very close, and if our goal-kicking had been better, who knows? I doubt the All Blacks will make the same mistake again.'

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