Former All Blacks loose forward Liam Messam expects the Springboks to stick to their guns in Saturday’s historic 100th Test, despite coming into the match off two successive losses to Australia.
The Springboks go into the 100th Test against New Zealand under fire after slipping to back-to-back defeats by the Wallabies, which has all but ended their hopes of retaining the Rugby Championship title.
“The All Blacks are pretty much always used as the benchmark for ‘best in the world’, even if they’re not ranked number one at the time, or aren’t the world champions,” Messam wrote.
“Even though the Springboks lost their last two games, I think a lot of people will see this match as an opportunity to really measure who’s the apex predator in world rugby right now.”
Plenty of criticism has been aimed at the Springboks for their style of play, which revolves around their pack and kicking game.
While the South Africans tried to open things up against the Wallabies, it didn’t necessarily pay off and they found themselves conceding more tries than they scored.
“This year, they appear to be sticking to what worked for them in the World Cup,” Messam said of the Springboks. “Start with some smash and bash, throw in a few kicks, get down in the opposition’s 22, get the driving mauls going and suffocate the life out of your opponents.
“That obviously worked against the British & Irish Lions but it came unstuck against the Wallabies, who played to their own strengths and were able to negate some of the tactics of the Boks – although their high-ball game obviously didn’t function as well as they would have hoped.
“We saw signs that the Springboks wanted to throw the ball around a bit, and I’d love to see more of it – even if they might not quite be ready for it yet.
“More likely, they’ll double down on what’s worked for them in the past, even if it hasn’t worked for them so well in their last two matches.”
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