Dagg relishing new Boks challenge
Sportal.co.nz 14 Sep 2013 Getty Images
South Africa's four tries against the Wallabies last week have been one of the main talking points in the build-up to this week's top-of-the-table clash in the Rugby Championship.
Gone are the times when the Springboks relied solely on the boot of Morne Steyn to win games, or so coach Heyneke Meyer proclaims.
But it would be naive to think the Springboks will stray completely from the kick-chase formula that won them a World Cup and has kept them at second place in IRB world rankings for the last two years.
If they do decide to take the All Blacks on at their own game, Dagg said he would welcome the challenge, and any subsequent counterattacking opportunities.
"We all know their kicking game," said Dagg. "They love to put up a lot of high balls and put teams under pressure there.
"But I think they've brought in a new thing to their game where they like to use the ball."
While the Springboks' core has remained largely intact over the last four years, the introduction of new personnel has coincided with the emergence of a new expansive style of attack.
One only needs to look back to their nine-try 73-13 defeat over Argentina in August to see how well the new approach has worked.
"They've always had the ability to do it, I just think they haven't chosen to," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
A large number of tries have been scored from counterattacking movements.
That puts the onus on the All Blacks to protect possession while the back three of Dagg, Ben Smith and Julian Savea must be ready for anything out wide.
"I love playing the Springboks . . . they're a team that put the back three under pressure," added Dagg.
"So this is probably the biggest game I've had for a long time."
Weather forecasts have both sides preparing for a sodden pitch at Eden Park. If it does rain, the Springboks will have no trouble reverting to their low risk plays with Steyn sitting in the pocket searching for open spaces.
The All Blacks committed an alarming number of errors when Argentina employed similar tactics last week in the wet at Waikato Stadium. Dagg, in particular, can put his hand up for some of those.
"Hopefully we've learned the lesson of not trying to play too much in our own half and not trying to use the ball too much," he said.
"There were a few too many errors out there in the weekend ... the ball was slippery but no excuses."
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