South Africa v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, July 25
All Blacks wary of the 'Fourie' factor
July 24, 2009
The All Blacks are wary of the double-threat of Jaque Fourie and Fourie de Preez © Getty Images
The All Blacks have singled out the danger of the 'Fourie' contingent in the Springbok team ahead of their Tri-Nations clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The All Blacks No. 9 Brendon Leonard is looking forward to the challenge of marking the Bulls lynchpin at the Free State Stadium.
"He's the best in the world at halfback, he's got attributes that no other scrum-half has," the Chiefs scrum-half said. "We had a talk about how we're going to try to shut him down. It's just about getting a good platform and going from there."
Du Preez's accurate kicking game, incisive option-taking and invention on attack have been crucial to the Bulls' success in recent Super 14 campaigns, and he was instrumental in the Springbok' 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions earlier this season.
"He's probably one of the best halfbacks of the last few years. And the way he's a general for the Boks, it's something the other (scrum)halves probably try to achieve," Leonard said.
Leonard will be making just his third Test start, the others having come against Portugal and Italy and coach Graham Henry has shown faith in him after Jimmy Cowan impressed in their opening defeat of Australia in the tournament opener.
"I got told I was likely to get a run on the South African tour at some stage, so I was preparing for it. Obviously Jimmy is playing well and he had a great game against the Aussies in Auckland," Leonard said. "I'll take my chances as best I can. I'll try to use my speed around the park, not necessarily with ball in hand but just sort of trying to get around the park. Obviously the dry tracks here help that side of my game out."
Meanwhile, All Blacks centre Conrad Smith had no hesitation in comparing opposite number Fourie to Mortlock.
"Both are hard defensively and lead the line out," Smith said. "Jaque is a great player, he's stood out when he's played for the Lions and he and inside centre Jean de Villiers will certainly test our own midfield."