Can the Springboks repeat their heroics against the All Blacks?

Springboks head coach and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Springboks head coach and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Image: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

Having unexpectedly beaten New Zealand in Wellington last year, the burden of expectation is heavy on the Springboks.

Springbok coach Johan “Rassie” Erasmus is aware of that and it also explains why a contingent of first team players was flown over last week to prepare for Saturday's Test at the Westpac Stadium.

The Springboks weren't expected to win last year, having last won against the All Blacks in New Zealand in 2009 - and their last win in Wellington coming in 1998.

Somehow they won, and even though they lost by two points in the return game in Tshwane there was an element of competitiveness that had returned to South Africa/New Zealand games.

It was this reason that Erasmus decided to have a fresh, first choice side in New Zealand for the Test.

There's big expectation each time the Boks play New Zealand and I guess when people look at the team we picked for Australia, there could've been misinterpretation that we disrespected Australia and more about respecting New Zealand because you can't fly here on a Tuesday, have one training session and think you'll do well,” Erasmus said.

We have too much respect to try and do that. We've got expectations as the last three games were very close. We really think it's going to be a close game and there's massive expectation on both sides. There's also anticipation to see how much we've grown and to be on the side where you're not given much of a chance makes things easier than people saying you have a chance.

"Players tend to react differently and it's going to be interesting to see how we react for us to have a proper chance. It's going to be a massive opportunity," he added.

With the likes of Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Steven Kitshoff and captain Duane Vermeulen it will be a Springbok side that features only two forwards - in Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit - from the team that started last week's Test against Australia at Ellis Park.

Last week's star debutant Herschel Jantjies will be on the bench along with Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel, while the likes of Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe and Willie le Roux all start in the backs.

New Zealand's match-day 23 hasn't been announced, but it's clear Erasmus knows this game will be an acid test for what may lie ahead when teams meet again in Yokohama on September 21.

While momentum gained from this game could be a critical factor, Erasmus was reminded of the pre-World Cup Test in Port Elizabeth in 2011 that SA won, but with New Zealand ultimately winning the World Cup.

I take it back to 2011 when New Zealand played us in Port Elizabeth. I don't think many people would remember who won that Test match but they won the World Cup that year while we won that test. I guess in the bigger scheme of things, one will always play down this test and say the World Cup is important. But in the same breadth, it's a New Zealand v South Africa test so for us it's important and its going to be the same for them,” Erasmus said.


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With the fact that we're playing each other in the pool stages spices up the game and the last three tests we've played against each other, there hasn't been much between the teams. It's a spicy one and hopefully it'll be a close one.”

Teams:

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)

Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)

TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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