The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of the Boks’ World Cup opener against the All Blacks on Saturday.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes the Boks’ opener lives up to the hype.
The build-up to Saturday’s highly-anticipated clash in Yokohama has been extensive. As the big day has approached, there have also been a few mind games and some verbal warfare.
Finally, though, the teams can actually allow their actions on the field to do the talking, and every indication is that this could be one of the all-time great Test matches.
That said, there is always the very real possibility that the pressures related to an opening World Cup game – coupled with difficult weather conditions – may well lead to an anti-climax.
All I’m hoping for is a high-quality encounter that does justice to the hype that has followed it ever since the World Cup draw was revealed.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants to see the Boks turning the World Cup on its head.
I’m expecting the All Blacks to win on Saturday and to take the high road to the playoffs. The Boks will be in with a shout, though, and it would be great for the tournament if they were to succeed.
If the Boks win, the All Blacks will be under pressure to bounce back and show that they are not – as many suspect – a team in decline.
That said, a win for the Boks will only increase the pressure on the South Africans to perform in subsequent fixtures. There may be talk of a new title favourite after the clash in Yokohama. It will be interesting to see how the coaches and players respond to that.
Mariette Adams (senior writer) hopes the Boks’ midfield fires from the outset.
Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am have, as expected, been selected to start in tandem in the Springboks’ midfield yet again.
The pair in general, and De Allende in particular, have copped a lot of (wholly unfair) criticism in the months leading up to the World Cup.
Coach Rassie Erasmus has nevertheless put his trust in them and they’ve repaid his faith with impressive performances en route to helping South Africa enter the World Cup as the only unbeaten tier-one nation in this calendar year.
When the Boks snatched a 16-16 draw against the All Blacks in Wellington on 27 July, De Allende and Am fronted up against Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue. In this Pool B World Cup opener, New Zealand have gone with Anton Lienert-Brown and Ryan Crotty as the preferred centre pairing, meaning the duo will face a whole different challenge this time around.
Here’s hoping De Allende and Am stand up and produce another memorable performance in what could potentially be their biggest game to date and in the process silence their detractors once and for all.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) wants the Boks’ back three to withstand the kick pressure.
The All Blacks have made no secret about how they are going to go about approaching Saturday’s clash.
Weather conditions are likely to be unfavourable towards any flashy rugby, so it is likely that they are going to look to isolate the Springbok wings and put them under pressure under the high ball. Keeping Sevu Reece and George Bridge, who did so well for the Crusaders in this regard, as the starting wings supports this theory.
If the Boks are going to give themselves a chance on attack, Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi are going to have to be clear in communication with Willie le Roux, and dominate the aerial duel. Equally important is that they maintain the support of their teammates when they come to ground, so as not to lose the ball at the breakdown.
A failure to do so will hand the All Blacks’ front foot ball and see the Springboks having to endure a long day in Yokohama.
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