All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has warned the Springboks of trying to play mind games ahead of their clash in the World Cup Pool B opener next Saturday.
The Springboks beat World Cup hosts Japan last Friday in their final warm-up in a game which the South Africans only had 36% possession and had to make 164 tackles to Japan’s 69. Bok coach Rassie Erasmus admitted afterward that it was a tactic to prepare for the All Blacks match.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the All Blacks’ first training session, Foster suggested that the Springboks were playing mind games by deliberately giving ball to Japan and warned that the same tactic could backfire in their clash in Yokohama.
‘You don’t really know whether they were doing that deliberately or whether it’s part of their tactics,’ Foster said. ‘They’re a team that kicks well and kicks a lot, while Japan is very aggressive with their line speed, so it certainly wasn’t a bad tactic against the Japanese.
‘It was probably just a smart move from them [but] what you’ve got to try to make sure in this business, is that you don’t get too smart. You work on one area only to get caught out in another area. It’s hard to play [mind] games in pre-World Cup matches, but we know they will be 100% prepared in a week’s time. We’ve got to make sure we are.’
The All Blacks, meanwhile, ended their preparations for the World Cup with a 14-try 92-7 hammering of Tonga in Hamilton before departing for Japan. Foster said the All Blacks will not be moving too far away from the free-flowing rugby they played in that Test.
‘We like to attack, we like to play with ball in hand and for us, the challenge is the skill level and decisions we make there and also the choices we make of when to do it and when not to do it. All Blacks rugby – we play a fast game and that won’t change.’
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