Sam Cane: All Blacks won’t be intimidated by ‘hostile environment’ at Ellis Park

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Captain Sam Cane insists the All Blacks understand the challenge that awaits them when they take on the Springboks in Johannesburg on Saturday.

New Zealand – and their head coach Ian Foster – are under massive pressure following five defeats in six, including a 26-10 reversal against the Springboks last weekend.

The upcoming encounter is a must-win for Foster’s men but Ellis Park is a notoriously difficult place for visiting teams to gain a positive result at, particularly when you are struggling for form.

South African supporters will be baying for blood but Cane is adamant that his side will rise to the occasion and put in an improved showing.

Massive challenge

“It’s a hostile environment, but we quite like playing in places like this because it tests you,” he told reporters. “We are a bit higher (in altitude than last weekend) and the air is a bit thinner, so it is a massive challenge.”

While Foster has tended to be the man in the firing line, Cane also hasn’t escaped criticism, with many insisting that he should be replaced as captain, and the flanker admits that the last few weeks have taken its toll.

“You certainly feel it. It’s impossible not to and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” the back-row said. “It’s always been part of being an All Black, the pressure, but without a doubt it’s extra pressure.

“You can look at it as a burden, or embrace it as an extra challenge. You can only try to use it as a positive – as funny as that sounds.

“My job as captain is to lead on the field and training park and make sure we’re tight as a group and living and training the way we want to be. I can hand on heart say that’s the case at the moment.”

The question for the All Blacks is whether they can break down a Springboks side that were so efficient and powerful in the Rugby Championship opener.

They have a mammoth task on their hands but Cane has identified areas where the visitors can significantly improve.

Brutally honest

“We had a good look at opportunities missed and where we can get better,” he added. “We have been brutally honest with each other and it’s never personal, it’s about learning off an individual’s error so the team can get better as well.

“We all know as a group that you can’t just focus on the outcome (result), it is always the process and small steps that go into it that gives you the outcome you are after.

“They (the Boks) know their game really well and they execute it extremely well. There were 15-odd contestable kicks and we only took five of them. They gave us a great test at the breakdown.

“We expect them to roll out the same stuff, but we have seen some things on the tape where we can be better. We are desperate to improve.”

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