New Zealand v South Africa, Tri-Nations, Auckland, July 10
Matfield plays up lineout threat
July 8, 2010
Victor Matfield has vowed to hot top form against New Zealand © Getty Images
Victor Matfield has made no secret of the fact that the Springboks will seek to dominate the lineout when they take on New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.
The reigning champions kick-off the defence of their Tri-Nations title in Auckland and will be out to exploit their mastery of the set-piece, which includes an ominous rolling maul.
"We work hard on and are very proud of our line-outs," he said. "We'll definitely go into the Test trying to put them under pressure there. Hopefully, getting one or two balls early can let them think back about the past few games. It's going to be important for us. If they attack our line-out and miss, then we get our opportunity to have a good drive. Do they want to stop our drive, or go for the contest?"
The Springboks have not won at Eden Park since 1937 but Matfield puts little stock in history. In 2008, under his leadership, South Africa broke their long duck on New Zealand soil and followed that success with victory in Hamilton last season to seal the title.
"The history is there to be changed," Matfield said. "Eden Park is home for the All Blacks. They are at their best there. It will be tough, but we don't expect anything less. We've got a lot of belief in ourselves and what we are doing, we trust each other. We've been building for longer than last year and the things we do in the Super 14 always come through in the Tri-Nations."
The All Blacks are well aware of the Boks' strong points, with lock Tom Donnelly admitting that they had worked hard on their lineout and on taking their chances after defeating Wales twice in recent weeks.
"They are the world champions, they will be a bit of a step up," Donnelly said. "They will be more clinical. They probably won't make as many mistakes and won't give us as many opportunities as the Welsh did. The one or two opportunities they do give, we have to take. Their lineout is a huge challenge for us and something we've worked quite hard on. I suppose the test will come on Saturday night."
Donnelly remains unfazed by Matfield's reputation, insisting that cutting through the hype is step one in combating the Springbok lineout.
"He's only one man," Donnelly said. "He's gone two arms and two legs like everyone else. If you do your research on him and everyone is on the same page, you can cut down the options. You just have to get stuck into him, really."