The All Blacks insist they are not taking the South African rugby team lightly, ahead of this weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-final clash.
A number of pundits are predicting a comfortable New Zealand victory, following the clinical and ruthless dismantling of the French team on Sunday.
But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insists the French game means nothing, and says South Africa will be a tough challenge.
“The Springboks are our fiercest enemy, and we certainly don’t expect to put sixty-plus points on them,” said Hansen.
“Forty maybe, and possibly even fifty. But sixty? I doubt it.
“I just don’t see the point in the boys wasting that much energy ahead of their victory in the final.”
Hansen’s caution has been echoed by assistant coach Ian Foster.
“We’ve been telling the boys all week that the hard work starts all over again. It felt great to put a big score on the French, but this is the Rugby World Cup, and anything can happen.
“But it probably won’t. We’ll most likely smash the Boks, but rugby’s a funny sport, and it may take fifty or sixty minutes before we break South Africa down and run away with a big win in the end.
“Nobody in the squad is taking this game lightly. The boys all appreciate that it’s their chance to have a good training run, to throw the ball around and have some fun, ahead of our victory against either Australia or Argentina in the final. The lads know how important it is to stretch their legs occasionally.”
All Black captain Richie McCaw says he has spoken to his players about the need to stay disciplined and focused against what is expected to be a ferocious Springbok pack.
“We need to make our tackles, and not give away too many penalties,” said McCaw. “Dan [Carter] and I have made a little wager on the final score. He reckons we’ll win by twenty points, but I reckon thirty-plus. So we can’t afford to give away silly three-pointers.
“Performing at this level is about getting the little things right. Like turning up to the game on time, remembering to wear your rugby boots, not punching the ref in the face, and not getting too pissed the night before.
“If we can do those little things well, we’ll probably waste them.”