All Blacks expecting Bok backlash
August 15, 2010

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has refused to get caught up in the hype surrounding his side's barnstorming Tri-Nations campaign, instead choosing to keep a level head prior to a vital showdown with South Africa in Soweto on August 21.

The All Blacks require just a point from the game at FNB Stadium to regain the Tri-Nations title after four comprehensive victories over the Springboks and Wallabies but Mealamu is expecting a vastly improved performance from John Smit's men on home soil.

"Any team travelling to South Africa to play the Springboks at home knows how hard it is to beat them," he said. "It's going to be a tough Test for us and it will be very important for us to play well if we're going to get the result we want.

"We expect anything and everything from them. They've had time to look at their game and ours, and I suppose they will come up with a few different things."

The game will mark the 100th Test of Smit's illustrious career and Mealamu, whom the Bok skipper has deemed one of his toughest opponents, is excited to be a part of an historic occasion.

"It's going to be a huge occasion for John to play his 100th Test and I'm pretty stoked to be part of it. It means there will be a lot more passion and meaning in the game," Mealamu said."You have to be happy to hear such nice words from someone like John, he's one of the most formidable opponents I've had, a true leader of men. I look forward to another big match-up in the middle of the scrum."

The game will be played on high veldt but Mealamu has promised no drop in pace due to the altitude, with the All Blacks having enjoyed massive success so far this season with their policy of keeping ball in hand.

"With altitude, the lungs get heavy but you just have to think it's 80 minutes and you have to work hard for as long as it takes," he said. "We've definitely tried to play quicker in this year's Tri-Nations, there haven't been as many sequences as in the past. Teams have been good enough to execute, advantage is being played out and we want to keep the ball in play for longer.

"It really helps having a week off between matches, I'm feeling really refreshed after time off and being able to spend time with the family. We were able to do a bit of work physically and I'm definitely feeling fresher. It was a good flight over, made easier because there weren't too many bumps. The guys all slept pretty well and are in reasonable nick."


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