All Blacks focus on breakdown battle
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP BUILD-UP: All Blacks captain Kieran Read is expecting the final Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Pretoria will go right down to the wire.
The All Blacks will be eager to avoid a double defeat following their 34-36 loss to Springboks in Wellington.
And Read is expecting South Africa to be better.
Like the All Blacks, the Springboks had improved their defence after the Wellington win, and both sides had shown that in their respective games last weekend. As a result, Read felt the All Blacks would need to find different ways to break down the Springbok defence.
With Warren Whiteley out of action, the Springboks have recalled Francois Louw at No.8.
Louw is more of a traditional fetcher over the ball and loves being a nuisance at the breakdown, something Read is all too familiar with.
“We’re aware of what he [Louw] is going to be doing,” Read told reporters ahead of the Test.
“But from our factor if we can win a few more breakdowns, win a few more gain line we can negate all those guys and their work over the ball,” he added.
The rivalry between the sides has been subdued in recent years given the All Blacks’ dominance, but the Wellington win means that it will be back to its most fierce at Loftus.
Read, who missed out on the Argentine leg of the tour, revealed that the playing in Pretoria at Loftus Versfeld at altitude is huge challenge his team will have to combat if they want to win.
“It’s been a few years since we’ve played here against them, at altitude, but it always seems to be a pretty ding-dong battle so I’m we’ll have to go close to or near that 80 minutes, or over it if we need to.
“Our guys are excited by that challenge and hopefully it will be a great spectacle. I know everyone here in South Africa this week has been building up the game and got a lot of support from the fans,” he said.