All Blacks expect early fire from Springboks

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Lynn McConnell     16 Sep 2016     Getty Images

Heading into their Investec Rugby Championship Test in Christchurch on Saturday the All Blacks were not buying into comments by critics that the South Africans would somehow be cannon fodder for the world champions this time around.


"We know how much they'll be hurting and that's dangerous for us so we have to, from the first minute, have our intensity right and be ready to match that. We've faced it before," he said.

For his five-eighths partner Ryan Crotty there was a special feeling about playing the Springboks, and even better to be starting against them in his home town.

"The Springboks are a wounded beast at the moment and we know they are going to bring intensity from the start on Saturday," he said.

And having already been pitted against the Lions inside back combination of halfback Faf de Klerk and first five-eighths Elton Jantjies he was well aware of what they were capable of. They were likely to continue playing the expansive rugby the Lions had played and that would be good because it was a style of rugby he liked to play as well.

Of Jantjies he said, "He's got a great skill set, he can kick, he can run, he's got a good off-loading game so he can be difficult if we don't contain him."
There were signs of the Lions style of play in the Springboks game, but the Lions had also shown the ability to play the more direct style of game.

"I expect Ardie, every time he puts on…whether it's the Hurricanes jersey or an All Black jersey, he leaves it all out on the field and gives 110 percent. I'm excited for him, I'm excited to be outside him and obviously his fans are all excited to see him start this week too.

"I've seen him progress as a young fellow coming into the Hurricanes, and now his first Test start he's come a long way. He's always had that work ethic and that strength we see in his ball-carrying and he definitely punches above his weight so I'm excited for him."


They said that while Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Sonny Bill Williams had left a gap in the line, it was always a case of the players helping one another prepare for the role through their training mini-groups so they were all ready to go, and had been continuing for some years.

Crotty added that while it was good to perform well it was only ever as good as their last game.

"We need to keep building those combinations and keep getting better so we can continue to play at a high level. It is also probably a credit to those guys who have left the jersey to the work they put in to help the guys that were stepping up into that role.

"They were always a massive help to the unit," he said.