Wellington – South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has challenged his side to “step up” against the All Blacks after he kept faith with the side that comprehensively beat Australia last week in the Rugby Championship.
The Springboks recorded their first win at Lang Park in Brisbane with a 38-12 victory over the Wallabies last Saturday and are looking to win their first game against New Zealand at Eden Park since 1937.
Meyer named an unchanged side to face the All Blacks, content the challenge of facing the world champions at a ground that has become a virtual fortress would bring the best out of his side.
“You don’t want to get into a situation where it’s easy to pick the same side when everything goes well and you have won,” Meyer told reporters in Auckland.
“We know that we have to make an unbelievable step up.
“This is the best team in the world we are facing.
“The thing is we will face them at their best, which is an unbelievable challenge. While it’s great we have the same team, these guys need to make a huge step up.”
The Springboks lead the Rugby Championship on 14 points, one ahead of the All Blacks, and the winner of the game at Eden Park could determine who goes on to claim the southern hemisphere title next month.
Meyer’s forwards smashed the Wallabies into submission last week with their massive back row of Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts and Francois Louw particularly destructive, while locks Eben Etzebeth and Flip van der Merwe were also prominent.
The former Bulls coach said he felt the entire pack had excelled last week against the Wallabies.
“I just felt that the team scrummed well and did a lot of things well,” Meyer said. “I have a lot of confidence in the pack. I think they have done well.”
The Springboks had been criticised in the past for a one-dimensional game plan that involved their pack getting the ball to flyhalf Morne Steyn, whose instinct was to kick.
This year, however, South Africa appeared to be more expansive with nine tries in their 73-13 demolition over the Pumas in the first week of the Championship and three tries from an exciting backline last week in Brisbane.
“We always get criticised for playing a boring game (but) the strange thing is that it’s more or less the same game plan,” Meyer added. “You want to play a total game.
“You have to score tries if you want to win… and sooner or later you score tries if your guys get together and take their opportunities.”
The attacking mindset allowed the Springboks to enter the game with an air of unpredictability, Meyer said, though it counted for nothing if they did not win the game
“We want to play really expansive but I truly believe that being one-dimensional against a team like the All Blacks, sooner or later they will work you out,” he said.
“I’m happy to score tries, but on Saturday I’ll take a one-point win. I’ll take the ugliest win in the history of the game, as long as we win.”
South Africa: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Willie le Roux, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jean de Villiers (captain), 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Flip van der Merwe, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Juandre Kruger, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Jano Vermaak, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Jan Serfontein.
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