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TONIGHT overnight min 8
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TOMORROW JUL 26 MONDAY
Rain, clearing in the east.
Snow to 1200m. Wind at
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Freezing level: 1800m.
All Blacks brace for sell-out Ellis Park
South Africa host world champions New
Zealand at Ellis Park tomorrow morning in
the latest episode of a rivalry between the
top-two ranked rugby nations that invariably
Last year at the same Johannesburg
stadium, a monster last-minute penalty
goal by replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie
earned the Springboks a rare recent victory.
It was only the second loss suffered by the
No 1-ranked All Blacks since they won the
2011 World Cup in Auckland, and ended a
run of five consecutive victories over their
Despite home advantage and the backing
of most in an expected sell-out 62,000
crowd, the Springboks start as underdogs
in the Rugby Championship second-round
South Africa surrendered a 13-point lead
when losing at the death in Australia last
Saturday, a day after New Zealand cruised
to a five-try 39-18 victory over Argentina in
With the Southern Hemisphere tournament
trimmed from six rounds to three because the
World Cup kicks off on September 18 in
England, the All Blacks could clinch a fourth
consecutive title this weekend.
A bonus-point New Zealand victory and
a home win for Argentina over Australia in
which no bonus points are secured would
give the title-holder an unassailable six-point
advantage with one round left.
But when the test begins as dusk envelopes
African financial hub Johannesburg, rival
coaches Heyneke Meyer and Steve Hansen
will have one eye on the championship and
one on the World Cup.
Hansen has rung the changes when
announcing three starting line-ups, with the
visit to Johannesburg preceded by a 25-16
test win in Samoa and the pounding of the
The coach who succeeded Graham Henry
after the 2011 World Cup triumph has
chosen three right wingers, three centre
partnerships, three scrum-halves and three
So deep is the reser voir of All Blacks talent,
first-choice fly-half Dan Carter and centre-
cum-offload magician Sonny Bill Williams
have been “rested” for the Ellis Park game.
“ We have got to develop combinations and
versatility,” stresses Hansen, “because if a
player is injured during the World Cup he is
out for the rest of the tournament.
“Facing South Africa will be a pressure
situation and there is no better place than
Johannesburg to get answers about players. ”
He will demand a plan to stop South Africa
copying Argentina, which scored two tries in
quick succession off driving mauls from line-
Driving-maul tries are a Springbok
speciality with flanker Heinrich Brussow,
recalled after four years in the test wilderness,
a regular scorer.
Hansen has no love of the tactic, labelling
the eight-man drives “bloody boring” and
“ illegal obstruction” and wants the law
changed to permit collapsing them.
Meyer has plenty on his mind, including
the timing of substitutions, tactical kicking
and a promising but raw centre partnership
of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende.
The coach came under heavy fire for
replacing impressive hooker Bismarck
du Plessis and props Tendai “The Beast ”
Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis midway
through the second half in Australia.
“Did the coach not have a feel for the
game?” former All Blacks scrum-half turned
television analyst Justin Marshall asked. “Is
he premeditating that certain guys can play
only 60 minutes?”
South African columnist Mark Keohane
was equally critical: “Meyer got it wrong and
cost the Boks victory. He showed a disregard
for the flow of the game.”
An area where the Springboks have
traditionally been second best to the All
Blacks is field kicking with many kicks in
Australia uncontestable and an invitation
for the Wallabies full-back Israel Folau to
Converted fullback Kriel has one cap and
De Allende four while rival centres Conrad
Smith and Ma’a Nonu boast 180 Test
appearances between them.
But Meyer has faith in his “Bok babes”,
saying: “I would not have selected them if I
did not believe they can do the job”.
New Zealand and South Africa have met 89
times since 1921 with the All Blacks winning
51 Tests and the Springboks 35. There have
been three draws with the most recent an 18-
18 stalemate at Eden Park in Auckland 21
New Zealand achieved a record victory
margin against South Africa by winning
52-16 in 2003 at Loftus Versfeld stadium
in Pretoria, while the biggest victory by the
Springboks over the All Blacks was 17-0 in
1928 at Kingsmead stadium in Durban.
South Africa won the last meeting 27-25 a
year ago at Ellis Park thanks to a long-range
last-minute penalty from replacement fly-
half Patrick Lambie. — AFP
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw smiles during a press conference at Intercontinental Hotel in Johannesburg.
Pressure on ’Boks ahead of World Cup
Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika was
expecting an ambush, but instead may have
got a welcome mat from Argentina which is
fielding a new-look backline for tomorrow
morning’s test in Mendoza.
Cheika believed the Pumas had earmarked
Australia as easier Rugby Championship
He thought they would include stars such as
veteran playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez,
who sat out the Pumas’ 39-18 away loss to
the All Blacks last weekend, as they gun for
successive wins over the Wallabies following
a 21-17 victory at the same venue last year.
“ You’d have to think they would be
targeting this one because they left a couple
of players out of the first game and that ’s
their prerogative,” Cheika said.
But Argentinian coach David Hourcade
showed the World Cup was his real priority
in making a seven personnel changes as he
weighs his options.
Five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez and fullback
Santiago Cordero are the only sur vivors in
a starting backline that features a raw new
Inside centre Juan Pablo Socino will make
his test debut alongside Matias Moroni, who
has just two caps, while winger Gonzalo
Camacho is recalled for his first international
Cheika was not around last year when the
side was hit by the off-field troubles involving
Kurtley Beale which ultimately led to the
resignations of coach Ewen McKenzie and
team business manager Di Patston.
That issue blew up when the team was
in Mendoza and surely contributed to
Australia’s first loss to Argentina since 1997.
With plenty of other new faces in the squad,
the Wallabies feel that chapter is closed and a
victory will keep it that way.
Cheika liked plenty about their last-gasp
win over South Africa in Brisbane last
But it also gave them plenty to work on to
prevent the Pumas going back-to-back.
As well as making three changes to the
pack, Cheika said set piece had been a big
focus at training, particularly as they were
lining up against a side whose players prided
themselves on their for ward play.
Argentina’s two tries against New Zealand
came from brilliantly-executed driving mauls
following lineouts and Australia expect the
Pumas to use that tactic and the scrum to
They also need to improve their breakdown
after 18 turnovers against the Springboks.
“Set piece is the area where we really want
to improve,” Cheika said.
“The breakdown last week was definitely
an issue that we needed to sort out with our
timing and technique and we’ve trained hard
on that. ”
Ben McCalman, who is returning from a
fractured cheekbone, is the new No 8 with
Cheika liking his “tough and hard” style.
McCalman, who missed last year’s
Mendoza match through injury, said he was
excited to be back and playing alongside
recalled starting openside flanker David
Pocock, with the pair sharing a history at the
“ David Pocock showed last week and
throughout the Super season he’s back to his
best form,” McCalman said.
“I played a lot of my rugby with him over in
Perth so he’s player I’m very familiar with and
certainly enjoy playing with as well.
“Also with Scott Fardy as well; us three
working together can certainly add some
value to the team.” — AAP
Wallabies face new-look Pumas
McCaw pumped up for ‘ultimate challenge’
New Zealand captain
Richie McCaw will play
for potentially the last time
in what he considers the
“ ultimate” challenge of a Rugby
Championship test against
South Africa at Ellis Park
McCaw has hinted he will
retire after this year’s World
Cup, making this probably his
last appearance in South Africa
— although not necessarily his
final cap against the Springboks
with the teams on a collision
course for the semi-finals in
“I haven’t thought too much
about it, I’m focused on the
coming game and want to win.
If this is to be my last game
(in South Africa), I want the
lasting memory to be one of
a win,” McCaw told reporters
There is much to gain from
a victory tomorrow. It will
keep the side on track to win
this year’s shortened Rugby
Championship, provide a
psychological blow ahead of the
World Cup and give McCaw
the satisfaction of victory at a
venue he considers the hardest
to play at.
“ We’ve been coming here (to
Johannesburg) for the past four
years and whether it ’s been at
Soccer City or Ellis Park we
have considered these games
against the Springboks to be the
toughest,” McCaw said.
“It ’s always the most physical,
the most intense match,” he said.
“It ’s the game you want to
be a part of and Ellis Park in
particular is the ultimate place
to play at. We know we have to
take it up a level when we come
McCaw says the game will
provide an excellent test of
character for his side, including
debutants Lima Sopoaga and
James Broadhurst, who start at
flyhalf and lock.
“ When it ’s toughest, that ’s
when the best players stand
up. It may come down to one
moment, and so you keep going,
you stay in the game for that
moment,” McCaw said.
“ It can mean the difference
between winning and losing.
That’s also the way you as a
captain can inspire those around
you. ” — Reuters
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