Richie McCaw has warned his New Zealand side they must be prepared for a Springbok backlash when they meet South Africa in a Tri Nations Test today in Wellington. The All Blacks were comfortable 32-12 winners over the world champions in their Auckland opener last week, running in four tries in a clinical display at Eden Park.
The captain is expecting the visitors to up their game following last week's beating. "We've got to make sure we match that (performance) but they'll be a better team," said the Canterbury flanker. "They didn't get the chance to put on the pressure they have done in the past so I'm sure they'll be looking to do that. But we've got to make sure we don't allow that to happen." Graham Henry's side have been impressive so far this season when they have been able to secure quick front-foot ball that has allowed them to get their offloading game going.
That style of play was in full evidence in Auckland and McCaw again wants his side to focus on getting their basics right to allow them to turn in a similar display. "Holding onto the ball, looking after it, getting nice, quick ball, getting the set piece right - that's the simple things but you've got to do that every week if you are going to perform," he said. One area of New Zealand's game that has come under close scrutiny over the last 18 months has been their line-out.
It was a part of the game that proved costly in their three defeats against South Africa in last year's Tri Nations, but the home side were much improved in that area in last week's clash, winning nearly all their own throws and even managing to disrupt the Springboks line-out, which is widely acknowledged as the best in the world. "We've put a lot more work in this week again and have a few different things up our sleeve," McCaw said. "The big thing is it is a confidence thing and we've seen that in the past where we've been under pressure at the start and sometimes you start doing things wrong. It would be nice to be able to do it again."
John Smit, the South Africa captain, hopes his side can draw inspiration from their victory in Dunedin in 2008. A superb chip-and-chase try from scrum-half Ricky Januarie secured their dramatic 30-28 win. It came on the back of a 19-11 defeat in Wellington and, although Smit did not play in that victory, he wants to see a similar effort from his charges. He said: "Watching that game, after the result here [in Wellington], it was pretty satisfying so I can only imagine that the guys on that trip would have had those memories of what can be done and what should be done if you apply yourself."
But the Natal Sharks hooker has dismissed suggestions that the Springboks game plan, which has orientated around a sound set-piece, excellent kick-and-chase game and physical defensive work, is not best suited to the new laws which have freed up quicker ball from the breakdown. "It is still too early to tell," he said. * PA