Nelspruit: 'New' territory for Boks and All Blacks rivalry
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks and All Blacks will add a new chapter to their intense rivalry this weekend at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The 40 000 seater Mbombela Stadium has hosted three Springbok Tests, but the All Blacks have never played there.
The arch-rivals were set to play against each other at the venue in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic halted those plans.
The Boks are unbeaten at the venue, having secured wins over Scotland, Wales and Argentina.
Nelspruit last hosted a Boks match in 2016 against the Los Pumas.
However, despite the Springboks not having played at the venue in six years, World Cup-winning prop Frans Malherbe said it will not impact the Boks’ game plan.
The 31-year-old believes the pitch is in good condition, which will be vital for the scums.
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“Playing at places like Nelspruit or Port Elizabeth, which does not get a lot of Tests, is always special,” Malherbe said.
“The supporters always come out in full numbers and we love to see that.
“For us, it is in South Africa and it is a home game, which is special.
“We haven’t played on the turf in a while, and the last time I played there was during the Currie Cup [for Western Province against Pumas] and of what I can remember the pitch itself was in good condition.
“I have not been there last week, but do think it’s good.”
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Turning his attention to the All Blacks, Malherbe admitted the visitors will be dangerous as their prepare for redemption after the historic 1-2 Series defeat to Ireland.
He also warned it will be wise not to underestimate them upfront, particular after the appointment of their new forwards coach Jason Ryan
“The All Blacks always have a good scrum, and if we underestimate them we will be in big trouble,” Malherbe conceded.
“Their scrum is still proper and I don’t think it has any shortcomings or anything that’s missing.”
He added: “They are always a formidable side and after losing two Tests against Ireland, they will be desperate to bounce back.
“They will be very dangerous now.
“That said, our focus is on our game and to ensure that we constantly improve in the execution of our game plan.”