Springboks want to impose their presence as a pack, says Ox Nche
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DURBAN - IT is amazing what a difference a two-point margin in a Test match can make to the tone of conversation afterwards in the two camps.
The victors savour the spoils and the losers can only lick their wounds and aim for redemption in their next match.
That is how it was in Townsville after a Jordie Barrett penalty three minutes from time won his team the Centenary match, with All Black coach Ian Foster immediately setting his team the goal of a “grand slam” of Rugby Championship wins.
The Kiwis have beaten the Wallabies twice, the Pumas twice and the Springboks once, and if they beat the South Africans again on Saturday, Foster will have his clean sweep.
“Quite frankly, you go up to the Six Nations and if they win five games, they celebrate it as a grand slam, and we’ve got that chance now in the Rugby Championship, to have a grand slam opportunity this week,” Foster said.
“For this group to put themselves in that position is a massive credit to (captain) Ardie Savea and the men for the way they’re gelling together and working hard, and to achieve what we want to this week and get that grand slam, we’re going to have to lift a couple of cogs from tonight (last Saturday).”
They will indeed, according to Boks Handre Pollard, Ox Nche and Steven Kitishoff, who at Tuesday’s team announcement were asked how they felt about the All Blacks’ goal of a Rugby Championship whitewash.
“We honestly do not pay attention to what is said in the opposition camp. In fact, we do not look back at results, even if we have won,” Pollard said.
“This week, we will put all our energy into our plan, take confidence from how we train and from each other, and then on Saturday do the best we can.
“Obviously we will tidy a few things up, but it will be the same process, the same intent and energy, and hopefully this week, the result will go our way.”
Kitshoff added: “We will ignore that (Foster’s comments). We know how significant this match is, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that we pitch up and put on a good display that will make our fans, country and teammates proud.
“We back our style of play, physical presence and leaders, so we have full confidence in this team, and we believe we can win this big match on Saturday.”
The last time the Boks lost three matches in a row was in 2016, and a young Kitshoff was part of that team. He said it had not entered his mind that the Boks are now in a similar position.
In fact, that year the Boks first lost three consecutive matches and then ended the streak with a win over Australia, but then lost four in a row to end that year, with their next win only coming at the start of 2017.
“I was part of that squad in 2016 … that period is not something we discuss or think about,” Kitshoff said.
“Each week we just want to rock up and play great rugby. We back our style, we back our physical game, the way (we) play and we back our leaders.
“We have had a few unfortunate weekends, back-to-back, but we have full confidence in ourselves and our ability to win these big matches.”
Kitshoff’s fellow front-ranker, Ox Nche, also spoke at the press conference. He was asked to define the Boks’ DNA, because the players keep referring to playing to their “DNA” in defending their tactics.
“It is definitely our physicality, our set-piece and our defence,” said Nche, who will be starting at loosehead prop on Saturday because of the injury to Frans Malherbe, with Trevor Nyakane shifting to tighthead.
“Those are the main things. Nobody wants to miss a tackle in any game, we want to dominate in our carries and our set-piece has been consistent for us.
“We want to impose our presence as a forward pack. Nothing will change come Saturday.”