Heyneke loves the 'underdog' tag
Heyneke loves the 'underdog' tagSHARE
The Springboks will always be the underdogs against the All Blacks in New Zealand, but it is a position that pleases Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Meyer on Monday described his team's decisive Rugby Championship encounter with the Kiwis in Auckland on Saturday as "the ultimate challenge".
And even without the services of talismanic captain Richie McCaw (sidelined for at least four weeks with a knee injury), Meyer believes the All Blacks will go into the game as the favourites.
"You still have to prepare for the same team and the same way of playing," Meyer told a media briefing in Auckland, as his charges started the build-up towards the Round Four encounter at Eden Park.
He said the Boks are going to focus on their own game this week, as they want to take it to the "next level", following a record 38-12 triumph over Australia in Brisbane at the weekend that saw South Africa retain first place on the competition standings.
"I truly believe this is going to be the ultimate challenge," he said of the upcoming encounter with the Kiwis, adding: "It is going to be tougher than we have ever had before.
"It is a great challenge and I love being in New Zealand – that is the mindset and we can't wait to get onto the field."
The Boks are on a nine-match winning streak, five of those on the road, but he described his team as "totally the underdogs".
"But we like that tag and we have done well under that tag," Meyer said, adding: "We feel we are in a win-win situation and we can't wait to get going."
Meyer said the absence of McCaw will not change the way the Kiwis approach the game, whether Sam Cane or Liam Messam is in the side.
"One thing I know about New Zealand is that they have probably the best openside flanks around," the Bok coach said, adding: "Every single New Zealand openside [flank] in Super Rugby is a quality player."
Meyer pointed out that the All Blacks have won a lot of games without McCaw and said they won't change their game plan.
"We know what to expect and we feel the breakdown will be war, like it always is away from home, especially in New Zealand.
"We don't expect anything less and like I have said, they have a lot of quality openside flanks in this country [New Zealand].
"We are up for the ultimate challenge and we know it is going to be really tough.
"We know the odds are against us, but it is a great position to be in and we are looking forward to it."
The Bok coach said that while his team has made good progress this year, Saturday will be another big test of just how far they have come down the road.
While most coaches take the "judge me by the World Cup" stance, Meyer's approach is very different.
"We want to be measured in every single game," Meyer told the media in Auckland.