Hard-running No 8 Ardie Savea says the All Blacks will counter the Springboks’ physicality with flair and “dangerous” ball-in-hand attack when the teams battle in Nelspruit on Saturday.
The Bok gameplan is based around dominating the scrums and winning set-piece penalties to set up territorial dominance and put teams under pressure with rolling mauls or the kick-chase.
“We know how the Springboks play, bringing that physicality to their game, even their skills, but we’ve had a bit of time to hone our skill set,” said Savea in the buildup to the opening clash of the 2022 Rugby Championship at Mbombela Stadium.
“We have great athletes in our team and ones who, if you give them time and space with ball in hand, they can be very dangerous.
“We’ve been working on that the last couple of weeks [in training] to give ourselves opportunities where we can showcase that and put us in the right areas of the field.
“There’s only so much coaching the coaches can do and we’re the ones out on the field who have to go out and execute the gameplan.
“For us as players, it’s about doing that and it’s one thing talking about it in the week and it’s a different thing actioning it.”
The All Blacks arrived in the Republic on the back of a series loss to Ireland in New Zealand and four defeats in the Kiwis’ past five Tests, so beating the world champions in their own backyard will ease the pressure on under-fire coach Ian Foster.
“This week is the turning point for us … we nail this week, then we can worry about next week,” Savea said.
“Every week we put on the black jersey is important, so it’s a chance to stake our claim and do the jersey proud.
“To be here in South Africa and playing the Springboks it can’t get any better … it’s gonna be bloody hard [but] I enjoy it,” he added.
“The bus ride in … the fans having a braai outside … it’s going to be loud but we just have to adjust. We know the crowd give the Springboks a bit of edge, we have to hone that in and keep them quiet.”
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