All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick has sent out a clear message that New Zealand will be implementing a strategy to overcome the Springboks’ linespeed on defence.
This weekend, the Boks and All Blacks will take the field in the 100th Test battle between the two arch-rivals.
Some of the hype around the historic occasion has been diluted by the fact that the All Blacks have opened up a 10-point buffer in the Rugby Championship, and are viewed as overwhelming favourites after the Boks’ back-to-back losses against Australia.
Although the Springboks have uncharacteristically missed as many as 40 tackles in the two matches against the Wallabies, there is no doubt that this will be a massive work-on for the team this week as they prepare to face off against an in-form New Zealand side that is firing on attack at the moment.
Retallick, who has played the Boks 11 times and not lost once, told media this week that New Zealand had taken note of the most recent contests against South Africa, and clearly identified what were the biggest threats.
“Where they’ve caught us out the last couple of times, when they did, was through their linespeed on defence,” he said from Brisbane on Monday. “They’ve outmuscled us and we haven’t been able to break them down through our attack and then they’ve punished us.
“So, physically you’ve always got the set-piece battle, but dealing with their linespeed and being able to make breaches and then convert them is going to be massive.”
“The Wallabies played outstandingly the last couple of weeks, but from from one week to another you can’t read into it too much and it’s going to be a massive occasion for the 100th Test between the two nations,” he added.
Retallick acknowledged the two teams might employ “completely different styles”, but said they won’t be underestimating what the Springboks could bring to this match.
“It’s still massive for us. We’ve talked about the fact it’s the 100th Test and they’re the current World Cup champions. It’s the first time in a long time this team has played a current world champion … but they’ve earned that.
“It’s what we do with the ball. We don’t want to get caught up going set piece to set piece, and if that does happen in periods we need to control it up front.
“But the freedom the boys are playing with and way we’re using the ball and creating opportunities, it’s no doubt how we want to play our game.”