The Springboks are prepared to unleash another kick bombardment against the All Blacks on Saturday as they look to avoid suffering four straight defeats for the first time since 2016.
The world champions enjoyed good returns from contestable kicks in a tight 19-17 loss to New Zealand last week and believe the game plan can deliver victory in the return fixture on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard brushed off criticism that South Africa’s tactics were one-dimensional ahead of the Rugby Championship sixth-round fixture, saying there was no need for change.
“We have a specific soul and DNA in this team, we trust our systems and our plan,” he told reporters.
“The aerial contest is an area of the match in which we feel we’re the best in the world and it’s something we’ll keep working hard at and keep doing moving forward.”
Pollard insisted the Springboks self-belief had not been dented by three consecutive losses — two to Australia and one to New Zealand.
“We don’t really look back at results, even if you’ve won the previous week,” he said. We give confidence to each other in the way we interact and train.”
Coach Jacques Nienaber said South Africa’s recent results were bitterly disappointing but believed “a colossal 80-minute effort” would see them end the tournament on a high.
“We have no doubt that if we can build on the strong points of our game last week and improve further on the execution of our game plan, we can get the desired result,” he said.
Nienaber has made just one injury-enforced change to his starting XV, calling up prop Ox Nche after Frans Malherbe was ruled out with a neck injury.
The All Blacks have already sealed the Rugby Championship title and regained the world number one ranking, but say there will be no slackening in what is essentially a dead-rubber tie.
“We were delighted with the result last week, but weren’t as delighted with the performance,” New Zealand coach Ian Foster said.
“We want to take the things we learned and apply them.”
Foster showed a ruthless streak in dropping wingers George Bridge and Will Jordan after unconvincing displays against the Boks’ high ball tactics last weekend.
He recalled Sevu Reece on the right wing and shifted Rieko Ioane to the left, making room in the centres for Anton Lienert-Brown’s return from injury.
Jordie Barrett remains at fullback after a match-winning penalty kick last week but Foster said he was looking for a better performance from him.
“Our back three perhaps weren’t at the level we needed them to be last week, so clearly a message has been sent,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse