Heyneke Meyer was happy to be able to name an unchanged squad, but realises that there is still a long way to go in terms of where we want to be.
“You don’t want to get into the situation where it’s easy to pick the same side and everything goes well and you’ve won,” he said.
Click here to view the video in which he talks about the selections and his expectations of the game.
The All Blacks have shown just how well prepared they are for the unexpected when their first three choices at flyhalf were injured, and still managed to come up with a more than capable number four and five alternative in the number 10 jersey. Now they blood a new hooker despite having two stalwarts available. I think their problem in the line-outs had more to do with poor throwing by the hooker, than with the jumpers themselves. Whether a rookie will be able to control his nerves remains to be seen, and if we can spoil the first throw, it will really require a huge amount of composure from the 26-year old Dane Coles. Making your debut against the number one hooker in the world is certainly a challenge for the player earmarked to be their number one choice in the next RWC.
The other changes were expected in respect of the expected physical onslaught from the Boks.
Click here to see the video of Steve Hansen explaining his selections.
The biggest challenge for the Boks will be in the mental department. There is no doubt in my mind that the All Blacks will come flying out of the blocks, doing their utmost to upset the confidence of the Springboks, and then build on this to secure a home win. Our rock solid defence, which prevented the Wallabies from scoring a single try (a first in 12 years), will need to be up to the challenge. Cool heads are required, and Jean de Villiers will need to settle the nerves of the less experienced players.
The weather conditions will suit our game plan better, but do not be fooled. The All Blacks play great rugby in any conditions, and with the crowd egging them on, the challenge will be huge.
I have two concerns:
- The second match of a tour often leads to a slump in performance, and
- The All Black coaching staff always analyse the game at half time, and implement a revised game plan in the second half.
Will Heyneke and his team be up to this? Watch when they sing the national anthem and you will know.
My heart says so loudly that the Boks will win that I cannot hear my head at all.
Character Test Awaits Wallabies
Australia may be in short supply of classy players at the moment, but there is no shortage of opinions from previous players and coaches. Listen to what Eddie Jones had to say about the state of Wallaby rugby:
”I disagree with Ewen’s comments that you can dumb the game down … I can’t see how we can play any dumber. We play down the sideline against South Africa with short passes, get rucks inside the 15 [metres] – that’s where South Africa want rucks, so then they can rush. Then we throw these long, loopy passes into centre-field and wonder why we get turned over. It’s a combination of the players making better decisions and probably being more specific with the game plan, and not less specific.”
Jake White weighed in with the following:
”It’s unfair for the coach to take the blame, if Australian rugby wants to move forward they have to get the structures behind it. There has to be someone who drives it and is passionate about it. There has to be some sort of pathway for players and coaches … at the moment it’s all reactive stuff and I don’t think it’s fair on Ewen … you have to have a proper high-performance rugby program.”
If White is right, it is going to be a long time before they will reap the benefits.
Dropping Will Genia for the cocky Nick White does not make sense to me. I suspect he is going to get his arrogant little behind kicked solidly on Saturday.
Argentina made five changes and, like the French, it is unlikely to have too much of an effect on team cohesion. Beating Australia at home must seem like a reality, and unless the Wallabies really turn their game around, it will be a dream come true for the Pumas.