CAPE TOWN – The All Blacks have 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 on Saturday at Newlands 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 already), 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 managed to get some good preparation in on the last day, and added that their “energy levels” were right where it should be.
“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.”
And regarding the Springboks, or the Boks loose trio in particular, Read said that Francois Louw – who will get his first Test start at No 8, with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi at seven and six – will be the one to watch when it comes to the breakdown area.
“They’re a tough team, they’ve been building. Francois Louw is talented in that area (breakdowns),” Read said.
“Maybe they’ll come at us a bit more physically in the forward pack.”