"We know what's coming" - Aaron Smith on South African tour

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As the New Zealanders prepared to fly out of Auckland on Friday, Smith said all their most recent Test matches had been against top-ranked sides, South Africa, Ireland and France, and they would be walking towards their next challenge.

 

"We have to make sure that come next Saturday we're ready to go and give South Africa everything we've got."

 

Smith said there had been a lot of 'outside noise' over the last two weeks, but the side had a good meeting on Monday, and it was about everybody in the room doing their job and getting ready to take on the South African challenge.

 

"We know what's coming but it's up to us as players to own our part of it and get our own stuff right," he said.

 

Smith said he was confident they had enough time to turn things around against South Africa.

 

They had a clear focus on what they would implement in South Africa.

 

 

"There's things when you put the jersey on you've got to get sorted. Ireland put us under a lot of pressure and, any time we were able to put them under pressure, we would either go individual, or wouldn't stick to the plan."

 

Smith hasn't been in South Africa since early in the 2020 Super Rugby season before Covid shut things down, and he last played a Test there in 2018.

 

He was looking forward to the second Test at Ellis Park, where he has played some big games there in the past.

 

It was about coping with the altitude and the passionate fans.

 

"You know what type of game it is going to be - two great teams going at it. Physical, 80-minute encounters."

 

There was also a benefit in going as a team to get to know teammates better.

 

"You've got to get yourself mentally there. I'm a halfback, so the physical challenge for me will be trying to play the game at speed, communicate and organise our big boys, but they know what's coming.

 

"We know the type of game they play. Since 2018 on they've really nailed down their identity around how South Africa want to play, a little bit old school but using their set-piece to kick the ball, squeeze you. That's their game, and it's up to us to be able to nullify the high-kicking game, and get it right at set-piece," he said.

 

Smith said he had faith in coach Ian Foster and captain Sam Cane and said some of what they had been through was hurtful, and it had been ridiculous how ruthless some of the comments had been.

 

"We're backing them, and it's up to us in the next two weeks to put a bit of pride back in the jersey for ourselves, but also for the people who have been under the squeeze the most," he said.

 

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