KAGOSHIMA – South Africa's assistant coach Mzwandile Stick is hoping for a strong performance by the match officials when they take on New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup opener in Yokohama on Saturday.
The Boks have previously felt they have not always got the rub of the green from the officials in clashes with the world champions, especially in areas such as the breakdown and scrum.
With only two points separating the sides on aggregate in their last four matches, it suggests fine margins could decide the Pool B opener.
"Hopefully the match officials will respect the game because if you look at the way things are between us and New Zealand, I think we're more balanced now," Stick told reporters on Monday.
"If you look at the previous history when you look at the All Blacks, they've been dominating. When they go to the World Cup, sometimes they become favourites. We are at an equal level at the moment.