DURBAN - The Springboks arrived in Auckland in an optimistic mood on Monday, having remained unbeaten in Test matches this year and chipper about their chances of beating the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time since 2009.
The Boks are staying in their usual downtown Auckland hotel before crossing the bridge on Saturday to the North Harbour of Auckland and a ground where they played a number of games in the 2011 World Cup, notably their close win over Samoa.
“We are very aware of how it is going to be tough against the All Blacks, and we need no reminding of how we will be punished if we repeat the same kind of errors that we did against the Wallabies,” Bok coach Allister Coetzee said on the team’s arrival.
“There are grey areas in the game that we have to clear up, decision-making areas such as whether it is to gather kicks and run or kick,” Coetzee said.
“Whatever the case, we can’t give the All Blacks that choice of what to do with the possession. Because they will hurt you if you give them the ball and the choice of what to do with it.”
But Coetzee said that although his team had not beaten the Wallabies, he was pleased with the progress his team had made.
“The players are making better decisions and you can only make better decisions if you are winning more ball, and that is the prime message going to the players ahead of this match,” Coetzee said.
“If we don’t dominate possession we have no chance of dictating the game. It is simple, and the players know it.”
Coetzee was asked by the local press if he had learned any lessons from the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in June.
“The Lions were very strong on defence and they showed the importance of stopping the All Blacks’ momentum,” Coetzee said.
“You have to win the gain-line battle and get an advantage there if you hope to beat the All Blacks.
“If you let the All Blacks gain momentum, then it is eventually three against two, or two against one ... and try time; and the series with the Lions emphasised that.
“The All Blacks run hard at you and you have to stop the momentum because if they get behind you they will eventually score,” Coetzee said.
“The Lions stopped that. It is about patience in not getting rid of the ball when you are not under serious pressure but getting rid of it to relieve pressure when it is necessary.”
Coetzee said his players were preparing themselves for their toughest ever Test match.
“They have players comfortable under the high ball if you don’t get your kicking game spot-on, and if you are not accurate, they have the X factor to attack you from anywhere.
“Fullback Damian Mackenzie is a prime example. We have to control possession. It is as simple as that.”