New Zealand up for Springbok challenge

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September 13, 2017
New Zealand up for Springbok challenge

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The Springboks will present a new challenge for the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship clash in Albany on Saturday according to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.

While the All Blacks sit in front on the competition ladder after their 39-22 win in New Plymouth at the weekend, the Springboks are also unbeaten although held to a 23-23 draw by Australia in Perth.

“South Africa are playing really well,” Hansen said.

“They seem to be incredibly tight with each other, so they’re obviously building something from a culture point of view and that’ll make them more dangerous.”

Learning to cope with different types of tactics opponents might throw at them was an important part of All Blacks’ development and Saturday in New Plymouth was another example of that.

While adding to the side’s winning record was always expected of All Blacks’ rugby, the team management were still expected to grow the side and to cover all developments that might occur.

That has been hit home with the loss through injury of cornerstone props Joe Moody (dislocated shoulder) and Owen Franks (Achilles tendon surgery).

One of the criticisms of the All Blacks in the past in the professional World Cup era was their ability to dominate between World Cups but to fall down at the final hurdle.

That rot stopped with the 2011 World Cup success and since taking on the coaching role Hansen has been careful in bringing players up to top standard and Saturday was another example of that when key players were rested to give other players a chance.

Inevitably that meant a change in standard from that usually achieved, but at the same time it had forced some significant education on how to cope under pressure on those charged with maintaining the winning legacy.

Seven changes were made for New Plymouth so the job for the coaches ahead of Saturday would be to ensure combinations were ready for South Africa.

They needed to tidy up the breakdown but that was due to players on Saturday not being in the system ‘well enough’.

“We’ve got to be able to stay on our feet a little longer to make sure we can get people there too rather than just flopping at defenders’ feet so they can get a free shot at the ball. So that area we’ll look at,” he said.

There was also a need to cope with the line speed. They knew what the answers were but they just needed to get better at it, he said.

Returning to the side in Albany will be lock Sam Whitelock and halfback Aaron Smith.

Hansen felt Smith’s speed of delivery would make a difference to how they played when meeting South Africa. 

 African News Agency (ANA)

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