VIDEO: It will be 'last man standing'
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: It was once labelled the ‘Battle of the Giants’ and that is exactly what it will be in Pretoria on Saturday.
When South Africa host New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld in the final round of the 2018 competition, it will be the resumption of a rivalry that – until last month – had seemed to be consigned to the history books.
However, the Springboks’ back-to-back victories over the All Blacks (36-34) in Wellington and Australia (23–12) in Port Elizabeth have revived the ‘Battle of the Giants’.
All Black coach Steve Hansen said his team is gearing up for a classic, physical contest between these traditional rivals.
“Test matches between the All Blacks and Springboks are always intense and dramatic contests, and we expect this weekend will be no different,” Hansen said.
He added that the fact that the All Blacks had already won the Rugby Championship last weekend, had no bearing on this weekend.
“They [Boks] are a pretty confident side at the moment,” Hansen said.
“The Boks have grown another arm and a leg since they knocked us over and I thought they played really well against Australia.
They’ll be looking forward to fronting up again on Saturday.”
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.
“We’ve got two teams that are going to go at it “- two big bulls in the bullpen and it’s last man standing,” Hansen said.
“That’s what Test matches are all about and I think that’s what the fans want to see, really close games.
“Whilst you reflect on the game that we lost – which wasn’t great – it was a great game and everybody that watched the Test was excited about it.
“Our job now is to try and turn the tables on them, but they’re really confident and will take a lot out of that.
“They’ll be hard to beat.”