New Zealand captain Kieran Read and his team are bracing for a mental game from the Springboks at Newlands. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackPagePix

The All Blacks retained the Rugby Championship title with a win over Argentina last week, and now captain Kieran Read says they want to end their campaign on a high note when they face the Springboks in what is going to be a “mental game” for the visitors.

The All Blacks arrived in Cape Town earlier this week (five players arrived last Friday), and according to Read, the fact that they couldn’t train the way they wanted to this week (in terms of managing their workload ahead of the Test), being in the right mental state is just as important as their physical form.

At the team’s captain’s run at Newlands on Friday, Read, who will form the All Blacks’ starting loose trio along with Sam Cane and Liam Squire, also said that they did manage to get some good preparation in on the last day, and added that their “energy levels” were right where they should be.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, (L) and captain Kieran Read (R) in discussion during the New Zealand Captains Run at Newlands Stadium. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

“I think the boys trained really well and it feels like the energy levels are where we normally expect them to be on a Friday. It’s going to be a tough game. We’re certainly looking forward to it,” the skipper said.

“We want to finish the Championship on a high note. Every Test is important for us.

“It’s a mental game for us this week because we couldn’t train the way we would have wanted to. So that’s going to be important.”

When the All Blacks arrived at Newlands for their training session, they were of course met by a large number of supporters kitted out in black, and regarding their welcome, Read said: “It’s nice to have this kind of support, it’s something we don’t usually get around the world.” 

@Wynona Louw

Weekend Argus

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