NZ ready for 'uncompromising' Boks

Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:09
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South Africa may lead the Rugby Championship's try-scoring stakes, but New Zealand captain Kieran Read is expecting a typical uncompromising battle up front.

South Africa may lead the Rugby Championship's try-scoring stakes, but New Zealand captain Kieran Read is expecting a typical uncompromising battle up front.

The All Blacks and Springboks go head-to-head in a decisive Rugby Championship match in Auckland on Saturday - with just one point separating the two unbeaten sides at the top of the standings.

The Boks lead the competition, sitting on 14 points, one ahead of the All Blacks - a position they enjoy as a result of two bonus-point victories, over Argentina and Australia.

Read said he was well aware that Heyneke Meyer's side is prepared to give the ball more width this year.

"They are," Read said, when asked if he felt the Springboks were more dangerous on attack this year.

"But they still pride themselves on their set piece and chasing kicks and being physical and that's something they will continue to do.

"I guess they have shown they can play with the ball and score tries which is a threat as well but I would expect them to still come at us in the forwards so that's the challenge for the boys up front."

With showers forecast, the weather is likely to have a say in the style of contest that will develop in what Read called "our biggest Test for a long time".

The All Blacks came away frustrated from their mistake-ridden 28-13 win over Argentina in Hamilton last weekend, when they felt they tried to play with too much width in the wet conditions.

It was also a match in which regular skipper Richie McCaw limped off with a knee injury, meaning Read, 27, will skipper New Zealand for the fifth time, and the first against South Africa.

Read said he had been using McCaw, who has remained in the All Blacks camp this week, as a sounding board.

But with or without the captaincy, the 54-Test No.8 said the big focus for him would be to make sure he plays to the best of his ability.

Read was also keen to play down any suggestions of an Eden Park 'hoodoo' and felt his side were only concentrating on playing what was in front of them.

The All Blacks have not lost at Eden Park since they were beaten by France on July 3, 1994. A month later they drew 18-all with the Springboks, but since then they have notched 30 successive victories at the Auckland venue.

"We haven't touched on it too much," Read told reporters on Friday about the team's record at the ground.

"We love playing here at Eden Park.

"It certainly is our home here in New Zealand but I think it's more about us coming out and performing and doing what we can. I guess if we keep winning, that's what we want to do."

Read was not prepared to second-guess whether the ground held certain psychological advantages for his side over other international teams but if it did, the world champions were more than willing to turn the screw.

"I can't really answer that, but it's our job to keep them in that space if there is a slight bit of [that] knowledge in the back of their mind," said Read.

"It's awesome to be at Eden Park from our point of view. I guess it's our biggest test for a long time so we're really looking forward to it."