WELLINGTON, NZ – Achieving consecutive wins over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil is the goal for the Springboks when they return to Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Saturday for their Rugby Championship Test.
Following their 36-34 win at the same venue last year, Rassie Erasmus' men are looking to be the first Springboks side to win consecutive Tests in New Zealand since the sides of 2008-09 who recorded a 30-28 win in Dunedin in 2008 and a 32-29 win in Hamilton in 2009.
However, the All Blacks reversed last year's loss when beating the Springboks 32-20 in South Africa three weeks after the Wellington game.
South Africa signalled their intent to claim what they believe will be a confidence-boosting win over the All Blacks ahead of their first-round clash at the Rugby World Cup in Japan on September 21 by sending 14 players to Wellington last week to prepare for the game.
This is something that has not escaped the attention of NZ coach Steve Hansen.
He said the group of South Africans who had played Australia at the weekend had performed well after not having played for a while and without the players who were already in Wellington preparing to meet the All Blacks.
With only three Tests on home soil this year the side wanted to enjoy them by preparing well and playing the best they could, coach Steve Hansen said.
“We really enjoy South Africa, we love the challenge they bring and we have to play really well to beat them. That's not going to change this week. We'll have to prepare well, do things to really high quality and execute well,” he said.
Hansen said the flight delays caused by fog in Wellington on Monday had not been a disruption, they had adapted and adjusted and managed to do all the things they wanted to do.
“We've looked at a lot of South African games and what they did against us last time, the two Test matches you look into, have they changed, what they did as an example against Australia so you're looking for some things that you can assume that may happen again and try and work out other things that might happen,” he said.
With South Africa looking to repeat their win in Wellington of last season, Hansen said a lot of people had written the Springboks off before that game, but the All Blacks had not felt that way because they knew how hard they were to beat.
While there had been one blowout result (57-0) between the sides in Albany in 2017, if the history over the last eight years was looked at there was not a lot between the sides.
There had been a couple of comfortable wins, but they had to work hard to win in the last minute in South Africa last year.
“We threw the one here away as well and they were good enough to take it off us too so I think they're a very good side and they're building nicely for the World Cup,” he said.
Hansen again cited the tradition of competition between the two sides.
“The tradition is really important. We enjoy their company, we think a lot of them; we respect them very much. We love the way they play and we love the challenge they bring to us. From that point of view, it is a really important encounter. It's the next one so it's obviously really, really important.
“In the big scheme of this year does the result matter? I guess it gives whoever wins it a little bit of confidence going into the World Cup. It won't mean whoever wins this one will automatically win the one in the World Cup.
“Even then whoever wins that game doesn't mean the other team is knocked out of the World Cup either, because it is the round-robin stage and you'd expect both teams to go through and qualify.
In the big scheme, it allows everybody to have a look at each other and feel each other out but I don't think it's going to affect the World Cup,” he said.
African News Agency (ANA)