Springboks vow to play to their DNA against All Blacks

Duane Vermeulen and the Springboks forwards take the direct approach against the All Blacks. ADAM PRETTY/GETTY IMAGES

The Springboks are promising to return to their methodical game against the All Blacks, believing they have strayed away from their “soul” in their two losses to the Wallabies.

South Africa and New Zealand meet for the 100th time in the Rugby Championship test in Townsville on Saturday.

Heavily criticised for a boring but successful approach against the British & Irish Lions and also Argentina this season, coach Jacques Nienaber and halfback Faf de Klerk believe they were guilty of trying to play too much rugby against the Wallabies.

“We’ve strayed away from how we normally play. We played away from our DNA and that maybe put guys under pressure and that led to us forcing errors,” De Klerk said during the Springboks latest media session.

“That means as the game drivers, we’ve got the responsibility to play in the right areas of the field, and we’ve put pressure on ourselves … we need to be better, and we need to step up our game going into this test.

“We really want to rectify those errors.”

Nienaber agrees they played to their critics’ desires rather than what works against them in two disappointing performances against Australia.

“I do think we got caught up in that, and we had a good look at that in terms of what our soul is,” he said.

“We played double the amount that Australia did. That is not to say we don’t need to play and shouldn’t play rugby, we must just play when it is on to do so, when the opportunity is there.

“We pushed it a bit when their defence was set and a few times when there was kick space behind we got caught out by putting together too many carries.

“Australia did a definite U-turn in that game compared to what they have done in the past and as I say, they beat us at our own game.”

The Springbok’s traditional style isn’t always pretty, but it can be pretty effective as they proved at the last World Cup in Japan where they claimed their third title to join the All Blacks as the most successful teams in Cup history.

Of the 99 tests played btween these two giants of the international scene, the All Blacks have won 59 and the Springboks 36, with four draws.

New Zealand won the last clash – a pool match at that World Cup – 23-13, and that 10-point margin went against the tide of some tight and torrid contests since 2017.

The four previous tests saw New Zealand win two and South Africa one with never more than two points separating them. In Wellington in 2018, they couldn’t be separated at all, ending 16-16.

A dry neutral venue gives the All Blacks the chance to express themselves as they have done recently. But the Boks will be out to suffocate them.


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