New Zealand v South Africa, Rugby Championship
Springboks prepared for 'war' in Auckland
September 9, 2013
Bismarck du Plessis is a tough man to have in the trenches © Getty Images
Heyneke Meyer is preparing for the toughest match of his coaching reign, saying the Freedom Cup Test between New Zealand and South Africa at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday has the potential to be a "war".
The Springboks coach said in Auckland after arriving from Brisbane having overseen the 38-12 win over Australia that the All Blacks would step up for the game because they knew the tourists had shown they could win away from home.
"They will be very well prepared and the one thing about the All Blacks is that they always lift themselves when there is a challenge," Meyer said. "We need to be much better than the previous week and we need to be very, very clinical and much more focused and bring a lot of energy."
Meyer said some teams would be happy to settle with two wins on the road out of three, but his side wanted to win every game and they were aware they could still improves substantially despite the magnitude of their win over Australia. "We're still way, way off from where we want to be," Meyer said.
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Meyer said that New Zealand would miss Richie McCaw as he was an inspirational captain and one of the greatest players to have played the game. "Obviously if we lose Jean [de Villiers], I know what it will mean to our team. "They've still got great leaders, Kieran Read and a lot of other guys as well, but there's only one Richie McCaw and definitely it will be a big blow for them."
But Meyer said that New Zealand had several quality openside flankers. "They've won a lot of games without Richie as well, and they won't change their game plan. We know what to expect and we think the breakdown is going to be war like it always is."
Meyer said that South Africa would focus on their own game. "I truly believe this is going to be the ultimate challenge. It is going to be tougher than we have ever had before," he said.
Meyer said the scrum changes had gone well for South Africa, and they were getting the reward for their effort as the changes were opening up the scrum as an attacking base from which tries could be scored. But the All Blacks always had a great scrum, he said, and they always lifted themselves against South Africa.
"There're no weaknesses there. They can play an open, running game, they can play a tactical game, the set-piece, especially their lineout, has really improved the last couple of years, and they've always had a great scrum so we know we're up for the ultimate challenge and we know it's going to be really tough," Meyer said.
"Test match rugby is about how you cope with the pressure, and this puts a lot of pressure on them being the world champions, and playing at home, and [they] are probably expected to win."