Crotty expects a 'different' Springboks team


Lynn McConnell     12 Sep 2017     NZRU

The history between the two sides always made it an eagerly-awaited Test match but for those selected it was another opportunity to pull on the jersey and it didn't get any bigger than a Test against South Africa, especially at home.
At the same time the All Blacks were driven in their quest to produce an 80-minute performance.

"I think you could say we have played exceptionally well in patches in Test matches this year but what we are focusing on is our Monday to Friday and nailing that and that's what gets you the 80-minute performances," he said.

Crotty said coping with line speed from opposition defences involved plenty of communication and reading of body language at what the opponents may be trying to achieve.

One counter was not to have too much depth in the backline or to make passes too wide because that just played into the line speed tactic of catching the opposition well behind the advantage line.

"It's about seeing where the opportunities are within that line speed they are trying to bring and being able to see them and communicate them so you can execute," he said.

At the same time it was a double-edged sword for the defenders.

"If they get it right they can catch you 10m behind the advantage line but if they don't quite get it right they might be under their sticks. That's the kind of high pressure, high risk that line speed can create," Crotty said.

There was a definite difference between the Springboks of last year and this year's side and Crotty said he could see a 'really connected group' this year.

"They're really energised, an excited team with a few new faces as well and I see them trending towards how the Lions played during Super Rugby where they're playing with a little bit more width than they have in the past," he said.

The fact they had the halfback and first five-eighths from the Lions demonstrated that intent while there was also the same hooker and same openside flanker.

"It's an exciting good brand of footy and we're going to have to be right on [our game] to nullify," he said.

Crotty said he was feeling refreshed after the Dunedin game against Australia and the bye week had been well-placed in allowing him some rest and recovery.