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Mo'unga on Boks' tactics: 'There’s a method to their madness'

SPOTLIGHT: While the All Blacks were well and truly accounted for on Saturday, going down 10-26 against the Springboks in Mbombela, flyhalf Richie Mo’unga is confident his side have the means necessary to get the best of their opposition in their rematch this weekend.


Both sides relied on making the most of small opportunities to score tries, with the Springboks’ coming from two dropped balls from the All Blacks and the travelling side grabbing one following a bit of individual brilliance from Caleb Clarke.

But the home team certainly looked to have the upper hand throughout the bulk of the match, with All Blacks forwards constantly being forced back at the tackle and backs dropping balls under pressure from the quick line speed exerted by the defending South Africans.

While there were some improvements from the All Blacks, it wasn’t enough to prevent the Springboks recording their best victory in almost 100 years.

All Blacks flyhalf Mo’unga – who entered the fray in the 52nd minute and added some zip to the backline – revealed to media on Monday that the NZ national side had discussed various solutions to avoid falling prey to the Springboks’ rush defence.

But that they frustratingly weren’t able to implement any of those tactics on Saturday.

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“It’s tough. There’s a method to their madness with that high line-speed pressure,” Mo’unga said.

“Things we did talk about to combat that, we didn’t do well at all so that’s a bit of an uppercut.

“A bit of depth, width. Variation in your attack, kicking, passing. Those types of things,” he revealed when asked what those solutions might have been.


Regularly throughout the match, backs were caught behind the advantage line and dropped balls either turned possession over to the home team or forced the All Blacks onto the back foot, having to strafe sideways across the park and creating an easy target for the Springboks predators.

While the All Blacks are all skilled individuals on their own, Mo’unga suggested that the pressures of Test rugby were creating errors.

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“Test level, pressure can do that to you – scoreboard pressure, all sorts. It’s Test match footy where the most basic skills, you can’t execute them because a lot of reasons.

“What I will say is that we’re so close and it’s a bit cliche because close isn’t good enough at the moment but we’re going to look to build on the missed opportunities [from] last week.”

Mo’unga could be in line to make his first start on South African soil against the Springboks this weekend if regular All Blacks No.10 Beauden Barrett is ruled out from the clash.

Barrett looked to have suffered a major injury following a midair challenge from Springboks wing Kurt-Lee Arendse but was eventually able to leave the field of his own volition. All Blacks head coach Ian Foster confirmed on Sunday that Barrett was merely suffering from a sore neck but that all scans had returned positive, suggesting that the 31-year-old could still be in line to play at Ellis Park on Saturday.

If Barrett is given the weekend off to recover, however, Mo’unga will undoubtedly step into first five for what will be his first appearance of the year in the No 10 jersey after coming off the bench in the prior four matches.

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“I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting a crack this weekend against the South Africans,” Mo’unga said.

“I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated [at not getting many starts this year]. I’m the type of guy that whatever you give me or my role in the team, I’ll do the best I can. I’m capable of a start as well, I’m capable to be the guy if the team needs me to be that guy but I also understand I have a role to come on in the last 30 or 20 [minutes] to try change the game around.

“I’m keen, I’m excited and that wouldn’t change if I’m on the bench or not even in the 23. But I’m ready.”

By Tom Vinicombe, Rugbypass

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