The Springboks believe they have what it takes to ground the unstoppable juggernaut that is the All Blacks, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.
How good are the All Blacks? The numbers tell a story. The All Blacks have won 47 of their last 52 Tests. They’ve won three Rugby Championship titles over the past four years. This is the greatest Test side the game has ever seen.
But the All Blacks are not unbeatable. Again, the numbers confirm as much. They’ve lost three matches over the past four years. Significantly, one of those defeats came against their opponents for this week’s World Cup semi-final, the Boks.
The Boks appear to be confident about their chances. Jannie du Plessis, one of the Boks’ senior players, was in a particularly upbeat mood when facing the media on Monday.
While there is a healthy respect between these two teams, the Boks hold no fear for the All Blacks. The Boks refuse to buy into the idea that this All Blacks side is invincible and destined to win the 2015 World Cup.
‘I grew up watching the All Blacks,’ said Du Plessis. ‘When I received my first chance to play against them, I considered it a massive privilege. It was even a bit surreal. However, while it's always great to play against them, it would be even better to beat them [this Saturday].
‘We got back to our hotel late on Saturday night, and caught the last 30 minutes of that game [between France and the All Blacks]. The All Blacks didn’t just stick the knife into the French, they twisted it as well. The French felt the full wrath of an awesome All Blacks performance.’
Heyneke Meyer’s Boks and Steve Hansen’s All Blacks have enjoyed many great contests over the past four years. As Bok defence coach John McFarland reiterated on Monday, most of these Tests have been decided by one game-breaking play.
The Boks won’t be afraid to strive for that special play this Saturday in an attempt to unlock the All Blacks defence. While the Boks will stick to their game plan, they will take a few risks if the situation allows.
‘I remember reading somewhere that studies were done on Indy Car drivers. The drivers were constantly thinking about not crashing into the wall, and so they crashed into the wall,’ said Du Plessis.
‘We can’t think about failing or making mistakes. We’ve got to focus on doing what we do best and where we want to end up.’
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images