New Zealand give their opponents a glimpse into their game-plan again.
Despite an error-strewn performance against Argentina, the All Blacks said Sunday they have no intention of toning down their high-risk running game when they face arch-rivals South Africa next week.
The showdown in Auckland between the two unbeaten sides in the Rugby Championship will pit the New Zealanders against a Springbok side playing a similar brand of high-tempo rugby.
But where the All Blacks’ 28-13 win over Argentina in the rain at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium on Saturday was cluttered with dropped passes, on a dry ground in Brisbane the Springboks made crucial passes stick as they swept aside Australia 38-12.
The Springboks also picked up a four-try bonus point to move one point clear in the championship.
Along with not having their game plan working the way they want, the All Blacks also suffered the loss of talismanic skipper Richie McCaw who damaged a medial ligament in his left knee and will be out for at least four weeks.
Sam Cane will start in the number seven jersey next week with Canterbury Crusaders flanker Matt Todd called into the squad, while standout backrower Kieran Read will take over the captaincy.
Coach Steve Hansen said the change in the loose-forward mix would not alter the All Blacks’ approach to the Springboks, who impressed with the way they demolished Australia.
“They’ve kept their physicality but they’ve sped up their game. They’re using their backs a lot more and this will be the first time they’ve had so many bonus points in this competition.” Hansen said.
“That’s a reflection on how they’re using the ball so they’re going to be really, really tough.”
Hansen added that despite the All Blacks’ sub-par performance against Argentina there were enough positives to maintain the same approach against the Springboks.
“We exerted out own physicality on the game pretty well, the forwards played very good.
“It wasn’t a night for the backs so we won’t reflect too much on those kind of areas. We’ll look at things we can tidy up in our structures around the park.
“There’s enough positives there to look forward to next week.”
McCaw will stay with the team for the next week and Hansen said there was no thought of the 119-Test veteran flanker undergoing surgery on the knee.
“Hopefully, maybe, he might be back for the second South Africa game,” Hansen said. That match is in Johannesburg on October 6