All Blacks duo up for a set-piece battle
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: All Blacks shift their focus to set-piece accuracy in preparation for their 'tough week' in Cape Town.
For the All Blacks, the 57-0 win in Albany is little reference to what can be expected for this weekend's final Rugby Championship match against the Springboks.
Especially for hooker Dane Coles, who admits that his side needs to nullify the Springboks’ robust scrum - a department that troubled them in the opening minutes of the Albany test.
Some would challenge the hooker's notion, giving that they forced the Springboks into five scrum penalties.
The 30-year-old remains adamant that it is a vital weapon the hosts will make use of and sees it as one of the Boks' assets.
Furthermore, with French referee Jérôme Garcès officiating the match it produces an extra focus on the technicality of the scrummaging.
"France referee interprets the scrums a little bit different but we just have to adjust – he is the boss.
"We as the players have to make sure we follow his style," Coles explained.
"[Springboks] have a pretty strong scrum and I’m pretty sure they are going target us again. We certainly have improved since Albany and I think we just have to adapt to how their scrum - easier said than done.
"We have a solid plan in place, now it’s just about the getting the job done on Saturday,"
Meanwhile, Sam Whitelock has the tough assignment of leading the line-outs.
However, the lock will go into the Newlands' Test with the extra boost of confidence especially after his side manage to overturned the Boks' almost 90 percent line-out success rate in Albany. They won five of the Boks' line-out, which had the media questioning the tall veteran's knowledge of the Springboks' line-out calls.
Wary of revealing too much, the 28-year-old, who has become a dominant figure in All Blacks leadership group, credits good preparation to their success and said it’s a case of continuously evolving.
"I think there is a number of ways to win the ball in the line-out," Whitelock said, adding: "Every team has their own style, so you have to adjust the plan every week depending on the opposition.
"You can’t just stick with one thing, you have to keep evolving. Rugby is constantly evolving and you have to do the same, otherwise, you are going to be left behind.
"In terms of the Albany Test, I think we just prepared ourselves well. [And this week is no different], we had a good look at the [line-outs and] try to work out if there is a better plan to get better results.
"That's not just with the line-outs, but right across the board - looking at all the set-pieces and all the phase play stuff.
"We are constantly looking and obviously they [the Boks] are doing the same and trying to work out how to play against us.
"That's the beauty of rugby - those little battles within the huge realm of things. That's something Dane [Coles] and I get to do most weeks,"
By Leezil Hendricks