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Savea believes All Blacks can turn the tide

Back row bruiser expects huge physical challenge from the Springboks

Liam Del Carme Sports reporter
Ardie Savea says the All Blacks are ready to rumble against the Springboks.
Ardie Savea says the All Blacks are ready to rumble against the Springboks.

All Blacks influential back row basher Ardie Savea believes their clash against the world champion Springboks could be their turning point.

Four defeats from their last five matches have left the All Blacks in awkward uncharted waters but the combative Savea believes the ship can be turned around at the Mbombela Stadium.

This week is the turning point,” said Savea on the eve of the Rugby Championship match. “Don’t worry about next week. We’ve got to nail this week, then we can worry about next week. It’s a turning point for us — a chance to stake our claim and do the jersey proud.”

Savea and his teammates have the added burden of having to produce results in SA that will help coach Ian Foster remain in his job until next year's Rugby World Cup.

Savea has been around long enough to realise coaches can devise the best strategies but it is up to the players to implement and execute those plans.

There’s only so much the coaches can do,” said Savea. “We’re the ones out on the field who have to execute the gameplan. It’s one thing talking about it during the week, it's a different thing actioning it. That’s a huge challenge, but something we love to walk towards.

We’re wounded and we didn’t get the result we wanted a couple of weeks ago, but today is a new day, this week is a new week, and it’s a new challenge for us. There’s nothing more exciting being here to play the Springboks.”

It may be as daunting as much as it excites but getting a win at Mbombela Stadium would do wonders for confidence in the All Blacks camp, still in a contemplative state after their series defeat against Ireland.

It hurt the first week, and you process that,” said Savea. “But it helps being away in a different country, there are no distractions, you can just get the mahi going. It’s nerve-racking, but we’re excited for the challenge, and chance to get out there and rectify a few things.

The challenge, the amount of pressure that comes, that’s something we love to walk towards. This week probably won't be any different, and will probably be more. That’s cool. I can’t wait to get out here and get going.”

That challenge is all too familiar. The Springboks have a template that only allows for tiny alteration and Savea and Co know they will need to match the home team's physicality if they are going to make inroads.

There’s a lot that goes into it but we’ve got to turn up physically. We know how the Springboks play, the physicality they bring, the skill set. We’ve had time to take a deep look at ourselves, so we can put a performance out there we’re proud of.”

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