If the Springboks think that the All Blacks will show any complacency when the sides met at Loftus on Saturday having already secured the Rugby Championship title‚ they’d be wrong.
The All Blacks are still smarting from the 36-34 loss they suffered against the Boks 16 days ago. Despite picking up their sixth Rugby Championship in seven years at the weekend‚ the All Blacks only have one thing on their minds – atoning for that surprise defeat in Wellington.
Scrumhalf TJ Perenara‚ who played his 50th Test during last Saturday’s 35-17 win over the Pumas that clinched the Rugby Championship title‚ says they want to ‘right the wrongs’.
“We’re so focused on the next job and winning games and being the best footy players that we can be that we don’t often have time to reflect on what we’ve achieved‚” Perenara told the media in Buenos Aires.
“It’s similar to the case now; we’ve finished that game and my mind’s not about my 50th game‚ my mind’s on next week in Pretoria and trying to right a wrong from a couple of weeks ago.
“That will be a part of the motivation.
“Knowing they beat us a couple of weeks ago is disappointing and it hurts. Our major motivator is that we want to be better than we were the week before … if we don’t improve on what we did tonight that’s a failure for us. We need to be growing day to day and week to week.”
The bulk of the All Black squad arrived in Johannesburg on Monday morning although captain Kieran Read‚ who didn’t travel to Argentina‚ arrived in SA two days earlier.
Coach Steve Hansen gave his usual deadpan soundbites on arrival‚ congratulating Read for “finding his own way here (to Joburg).”
But he quickly turned to the business at hand and issued a veiled warning to the Boks that they would be in for a huge contest on Saturday.
“For the All Blacks there is no other expectation than having to win‚” Hansen said.
“We are expected to win every Test and if we win them we have to win them well.
“Nothing will change for us this weekend. We have to prepare well and hit the track on Saturday in the frame of mind that allows us to present ourselves as best we can.”
Titles and trophies are so commonplace for the All Blacks at the moment that their motivation comes from trying to improve every week and win every game.
Titles and silverware naturally follow.
Loftus is a venue that the All Blacks enjoy‚ having won the four meetings between the sides in the professional era.
They famously clinched their first ever series win in SA in 1996 with a 33-26 victory in the second Test of that series. They also recorded a 52-16 win in 2002 and 45-26 win the last time the sides met at Loftus in 2006.
The Boks’ only win at the stadium was in the amateur era in 1970 when they won 17-6.
Craig Ray – TimesLIVE