Former Springboks captain Jean de Villiers believes that if South Africa finds a “balance” between defence and attack, they can “definitely” beat New Zealand twice.
The struggling All Blacks travel to Nelspruit for their first of two Tests in South Africa as SANZAAR opted for a mini-tour fixtures structure this year.
Head coach Ian Foster and his side are under great pressure from fans and media after losing their July series against Ireland. However, the All Blacks have made changes to their backroom staff, axing John Plumtree and Brad Mooar whilst bringing in Jason Ryan from the Crusaders.
Conditions to be a factor
“The All Blacks have been poor results-wise and will want to rectify that in South Africa,” De Villiers told BokSquad. “They are struggling with certain areas of their game, which the Boks will want to exploit.
“Another factor is that New Zealand’s players no longer play Super Rugby in South Africa. In the past, they would get to play at altitude during Super Rugby so it wouldn’t have too much of an effect on them in the Tri-Nations or Rugby Championship. Many of their players who come to South Africa this year won’t be used to it, which will benefit the Boks.”
Searching for “balance”
The former centre hoped the Springboks had learnt from errors last year and searched for more of a balance between attack and defence, giving them the best chance of winning both games.
“The Boks will obviously look to exploit areas of weakness in the All Blacks’ game and I hope they have learned from last year’s two matches against them,” he added.
“The Boks lost the first game narrowly after showing no ambition with ball in hand. In the second game, which they won, they did keep ball in hand and took their opportunities to attack. That is when the Boks are at their best, the 2019 World Cup final being a prime example.
“The Boks put teams under pressure by playing the game they play – a strong, solid first phase, big defence and a good kicking game – but if they can get the balance right in terms of attack, and keep ball in hand when the opportunity is there, then they can definitely win both games against the All Blacks.”
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