All Blacks 'will have to give everything' to beat Boks
MCCAW: ALL BLACKS WILL ENJOY BIG CROWD IN SOWETO
The All Blacks hope to put on a show worthy of South Africa’s biggest Test crowd in 55 years in their bid to clinch the Tri-Nations rugby title against the Springboks in Soweto on Saturday.
New Zealand is far from daunted at stepping out in front of a mostly hostile audience in the 94 700-seat FNB Stadium.
“I think the excitement of coming here and playing in those sorts of atmospheres is what Test rugby is all about. Hopefully the boys use that as a positive,” New Zealand captain Richie McCaw said
McCaw and the All Blacks got their first look at the imposing stadium which was called Soccer City when it hosted the Soccer World Cup final, and which will stage its first rugby international this weekend.
The New Zealanders took time out during the light afternoon workout to gaze up at the clay-coloured stands of Africa’s biggest stadium, which is expected to host the biggest crowd for a Springboks home Test since about 95 000 attended the British Lions match at Ellis Park in 1955.
The All Blacks were as excited as the Springboks when the Test was switched from Ellis Park to a vuvuzela-free FNB, and on seeing it on Friday they were fired up even more.
“Wherever you play, if you get an atmosphere of close to 100 000 people, you have got to use it to your advantage,” McCaw said.
South Africa was back home after losing all three Tests in New Zealand and Australia, and while it can’t retain the Tri-Nations title, it was still determined to spoil its archrival’s bid.
‘The pitch is still 100m long’
McCaw said his team would “have to give everything” to beat the Boks, but was approaching the landmark game with the same focus.
“At the end of the day it [the pitch] is still 100 metres long and you have still got to go out and do the job. That’s the way we are approaching it,” the skipper said.
“The best way to silence a crowd is to start well and get stuck in so we will have to make sure we do that.”
Coming off four successive victories in the competition, the in-form All Blacks have been cautious not to talk up a 10th Tri-Nations title in 15 seasons.
But New Zealand is almost certain to claim the crown again after a powerful display of attacking rugby in successive victories over the Springboks and two wins over Australia, leaving it needing just
a point from two games.
“Yeah, it’s been pretty good,” said fullback Mils Muliaina, who has four tries in four games in this year’s championship.
“We’ve built some nice momentum, but we know this game here is going to be a massive challenge. Hopefully we can get a pretty fast, free-flowing game on the weekend.”
McCaw said New Zealand no longer had any fitness worries over lock Tom Donnelly, who hurt his ankle earlier in the week. Donnelly ran freely at the session on Friday and is set to continue his second-row partnership with veteran Brad Thorn.
The only changes coach Graham Henry has made to his winning combination is starting number nine Jimmy Cowan, who has recovered from a rib injury, and replacing Owen Franks with older brother Ben in the front row.
New Zealand has won 44 of the 80 games between the rivals stretching back to their first meeting in 1921, compared with just 33 victories by South Africa.
The All Blacks and Springboks have met 11 times in Johannesburg—with South Africa winning eight of those encounters.
“Hopefully history doesn’t mean a lot once you get out there and the whistle goes,” McCaw smiled.
“We are going to have to give it everything in terms of passion.” - Sapa-AP