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Hard and fast down south

Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:47
Dunedin-stadium630

Springbok defence coach John McFarland believes the enclosed Foryth-Barr stadium in Dunedin is going to make for a fast-paced game on Saturday.

Both the Springboks and the All Blacks will be playing their first Test match on the surface when they meet in their Rugby Championship clash this weekend and McFarland believes that conditions will be similar to those typically found on the Highveld in South Africa.

"I think it will make it like a Highveld game, like a South African game, it could get pretty quick. I was there in April with the Bulls and it was certainly a very quick game there," he said.

Although Dunedin experiences extremely high rainfall, the new stadium presents pristine conditions every time, which provided something of a challenge for the Highlanders in their first Super Rugby season at the new venue this year.

"Speaking to [Highlanders coach] Jamie Joseph he said their biggest problem training-wise was that they would train outside in the wet and rain and then come inside and play in a hard environment," said McFarland.

The Bok assistant coach added that the dry conditions should make for high quality rugby.

"It is a superb stadium to play in, a lot of noise, clean environment, it is great for Test rugby.

"I think it will be a dry-weather game so it helps the handling. If you play in New Zealand at night there is a lot of dew on the ball and it makes handling difficult, this makes it easier for people so hopefully we will see a great Test match.

"It suits us as much as it suits them, we have got a lot of good players in our team," he said.

The Bok defensive guru said that despite some crucial lapses in concentration he had been happy with the way his team had managed to disrupt the Wallabies' attacking game last week, but explained that the plan for the All Blacks was likely to be quite different given their counter-attacking strengths.

"We controlled most of that game defensively, they didn't have a lot of linebreaks, they didn't get what they wanted out of the game so even though we didn't win there were a lot of positives to be taken from that but obviously we understand that we need to make a step up this weekend.

"I think the All Blacks play very differently, they have different personnel. You have got to take away their strengths and nullify them and take your opportunities when they come.

"You are always trying to take them out of what they want to do, so obviously if they are counter-attackers then the ball has got to go into touch so that they can't counter-attack," he said.

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