All Blacks expecting physical, angry South African side in Rugby Championship clash

Sheri Evans
September 12, 2017

"It's time to focus on the next one".

Halfback Aaron Smith will return to the All Blacks' starting side for their Rugby Championship match against resurgent South Africa in Auckland on Saturday in an attempt to speed up the world champions' game.

Allister Coetzee's side were humiliated twice a year ago by the All Blacks, losing 41-13 in Christchurch before they were thumped 57-15 in Cape Town as Hansen's team ran in nine tries.

"We're trying to play this brand of rugby that everyone wants us to play, but sometimes that's going to force errors and we've just got to get better at it", he said.

The scoreline perhaps belied the pressure the Pumas piled on New Zealand, but it does reflect the All Blacks' ability to absorb all that pressure and come out on top.

Jerome Kaino back with All Blacks squad ahead of South Africa Test
Jerome Kaino back training with New Zealand but unlikely to face South Africa

"Every Test is special, but from what we've seen so far in the Rugby Championship, they've had two great wins over Argentina and they'll be a little bit frustrated with the draw against Australia in Perth".

The lanky Fifita, making his first start in his second test, was put into space from 35-metres out and outsprinted the Argentina backline to get the 14-man All Blacks back into the game with 30 minutes remaining. "They're still a flippin' good side", Coetzee said.

Hansen says South Africa are playing really well where they seem to be incredibly tight with each other, so they're building something from a cultural point of view that will make them more unsafe. You can not afford to lose concentration or focus.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been experimenting with his side so it remains to be seen if the Springboks will have to contend with rookie flanker Vaea Fifita, who burned the Pumas defence to score a try in his first Test start last Saturday.

"But it's a tank that's got plenty in it and our job now is to bring that out, and his job is to work on his game and get better and better and reach his potential", Hansen said.

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