All Blacks v Springboks: Expect 'more bully mentality'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The All Blacks must prepare to face South Africa’s “bully mentality” in Saturday’s historic 100th Test between the fierce rivals, assistant coach John Plumtree said.
Plumtree said the Springboks’ game had evolved since they won the 2019 World Cup.
Plumtree, who has coached in South Africa, said the Springboks had used a skills-based approach to become World champions before reverting to the physicality they are renowned for.
While he was unsure what approach Jacques Nienaber’s men would take in the Rugby Championship fifth-round fixture in Townsville.
The former Sharks coach admitted the Springboks will be a dangerous animal when the two teams go head to head this weekend in Townsville.
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“They’ll be hurting a lot,” the All Blacks forwards coach said from Brisbane.
“They’re a very proud rugby nation. They’ll have a little bit of a corral mentality, especially when their own media and fans start getting stuck into the Springboks. That’s when they became an even more dangerous animal.
“It’s too late for them to change the way they play but they’ll be looking at the areas that are letting them down.
“The coaching team will be smart enough to not over-react to the last couple of weeks, they’ll be looking at parts of their game they’ve got to get better at, and also at parts of our game that are obvious threats.”
Having spent a vast majority of his coaching career in South Africa, Plumtree is very familiar with the Springboks mentality and said the All Blacks could expect a fierce contest from a side smarting over back-to-back losses to Australia.
“It’s probably more of a bully mentality around contestable kicks, really aggressive defence and forward play, scrummaging, mauling, which suits their DNA,” he said.
“We’ve seen them play some pretty good footy at the World Cup and against the [British and Irish] Lions as well.
“They can play, they’ve got some outstanding backs. So you can’t trust them, you don’t know what’s going to happen on the day, so we’ve got to be prepared for everything.”
He added: “For the [All Blacks] forwards, particularly, this is going to be the toughest-fought battle since I’ve been involved [in 2019],” he said.
“All the boys know that. Everything we do has to have more power, more speed. We’ve got to play the game at a high tempo, we can’t fall into the trap of allowing the game to slow down.”
Plumtree played down the significance of the 100th Test meeting, saying the coaching group had not discussed it with the players.
“A milestone like that doesn’t help, we’ll just knuckle down and get the preparation done,” he said.
*Additional Source: AFP