VIDEO: Boks under no illusions over All Black threat
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand remain the No.1 team and are outright favourites against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.
Following two heartwarming and encouraging victories by the Springboks – 36-34 over the All Blacks in Wellington and 23-12 against Australia in Port Elizabeth – some pundits are keen to install them as favourites for this week’s final round of the competition.
However, flyhalf Handré Pollard categorically dismissed the notion that the Boks will be favourites at Loftus Versfeld.
“They are the best team in the world and they do everything very well,” the No.10 told a media briefing in the build-up to the big showdown on Saturday.
He said character and the ability to play for 80 minutes will be the key issues at Loftus.
“You must win the big moments in the game,” Pollard said, adding: “It comes down to hard work and accuracy.”
He was adamant that the Boks are still the underdogs – despite their back-to-back victories and the fact that they are playing at home.
“Two games [that we won] don’t suddenly makes us the best team in the world, or suggest we should beat the All Blacks every time,” the 24-year-old said.
“We will certainly try [to beat them] and give it our all.
“However, they are still the best team in the world.
“We are still a team that is growing and building. We are still getting to know each other.
“We are under no illusions that we will beat allcomers.
“We will certainly give it a go and we have confidence in our ability.”
Pollard said the Boks are in a “positive space”, after two great wins, but said they are looking to “consistently performing at a high level” after what has been up and down season.
“Saturday is a big Test for us,” the flyhalf said, adding: “We want to keep the momentum going into the year-end tour.”
He said the Boks are looking to add an attacking edge to their great defensive performances in the last two outings.
“Our defensive efforts have been absolutely amazing, especially the second half of both Tests.
“It gives us great confidence, knowing our defence is solid.
“We are creating opportunities.
“We may not always convert [them into points], but we are creating opportunities.
“It is something we keep building on and convert a bit more.”
He said it is a lot of ‘small things’ that prevents them from converting opportunities into points.
“It is about being a little bit more accurate, a little bit more patient and making better decisions.”
He admitted there will be expectations after the Boks’ win in Wellington.
“We know now what we are capable of, but we have top be consistent – perform at that level week in and week out.”
Pollard added that it is pretty obvious there will be a backlash from the All Blacks at Loftus.
“Every time they have lost a Test, they come back.
“We know they will be more accurate and more physical, but we are at home and it is up to us to match that and go one step further.”