New Zealand-based rugby writer Ben Smith says the Springboks will open the door for the All Blacks to beat the world champions if they look to replicate Ireland’s gameplan.
The Boks and the All Blacks begin the Rugby Championship season with two Tests in the Republic next month, starting on 6 August in Nelspruit before moving to Ellis Park a week later.
Jacques Nienaber’s troops head into the competition buoyed by a 2-1 series win over Wales in SA, while New Zealand’s first home campaign defeat by Ireland has piled pressure on head coach Ian Foster and sparked an urgent review of the Kiwis’ loss.
Smith, a RugbyPass.com columnist who has previously penned several pieces criticising the Boks, argues that the All Blacks needn’t worry about the world champs troubling them as much as the Irish should Nienaber change tack strategically.
“There are so many areas of concern for the All Blacks it’s hard to know where to start, but the good news is that when they next play the Springboks in South Africa, they will not have to play the world’s best-structured attack,” Smith writes.
“The Boks cannot run anything like Ireland can, so the reads will be easier and the defence will not need to improve to see better results. It will be direct, physical, unimaginative stuff that the All Blacks will just have to man up for.
“The best thing Foster could hope for would be for the Springboks to get ahead of themselves and copy Ireland’s formula, as they would no doubt implode without the same level of skills and the All Blacks counter-attack game would run riot.
“However, after a historically bad run against France and Ireland, they will travel to South Africa as underdogs. The Springboks have to be short favourites at home to sweep them over the two Tests purely on this alone.
“Expectations are now terribly low for this All Blacks side that most would expect one, if not two, losses in the Republic.
“But the Springboks are not Ireland, so the script will be written differently. All the expectations now weigh on South Africa whose adoring fans are desperate to be crowned the world’s best again. Well, here are Foster’s All Blacks who have just lost four of their last five Tests. The perfect lamb.”