Rugby Championship News

Henry: ‘Bring on the Boks’





All Black coach Graham Henry said the Springboks will not be catching his team “cold” when the two sides meet in a Tri-Nations Round Two encounter in Durban this coming Saturday.

The All Blacks faced a very poor French selection – poor in terms of both quality and effort – in a two-match series, before overcoming a totally outclassed Canadian outfit 64-13 in Hamilton at the weekend.

The Springboks had a similar build-up to their Tri-Nations campaign – two outings against England’s third-string and then a one-off Test against Samoa.

The South Africans do have one advantage – having played Australia in a Tri-Nations First Round match at the weekend. The Boks were pushed all the way before two late Francois Steyn drop-goals gave them a 22-19 win.

However, Henry dismissed the suggestions that the South Africans would be better prepared, or that the Kiwis would be underdone.

“I think the [All Black] team is pretty aware about what the South Africans are about and the physicality of that particular side,” Henry said at the weekend.

“I know we’ve played them [the Boks] a lot in recent years. I don’t think there’s anything we’re not aware of.

“Obviously if you have physical games leading into [a Test] that it’s a plus, but last week [against France] the boys came off the field and quite a few said it was probably one of the fastest games they’d ever played in,” Henry said.

“I guess their [South Africa’s] advantage is they have played a Tri-Nations game before us, but in saying that we’re pleased with our build-up, we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made in the first two test matches.”

Henry admitted that a large number of his players had “half their minds” on the trip to Durban – which resulted in his team struggling in the first half against the Canadians, before opening up after the break and racing away to a comfortable win.

The All Blacks clearly clicked up a gear after leading just 26-13 at half-time – an advantage inflated by Andrew Hore’s first test try after the half-time siren.

However, Henry was unconcerned at the All Blacks’ easy run-in to the Test against South Africa.

“We’re reasonably happy. We’ve had three games to prepare and most of the time we’re playing reasonable rugby.

“We just need a big game now. I think that will bring the best out of us.”

Henry added that the next fortnight – when they face South Africa in Durban and then Australia in Melbourne – would give a true indication of where the All Blacks are at.

“The Tri-Nations are always tough matches, and the record of this management group in South Africa is not great,” Henry said.

“We have played four tests and have won one. We know what we are up against”.

Canadian coach Ric Suggitt suggested that the All Blacks will need to lift their game substantially before the encounter with the Boks.

“What will they learn? That they got to work harder before they play against South Africa next week,” Suggitt said about the lessons the Kiwis would have learned from their win over Canada.

Henry concurred, admitting the All Blacks had done some good things and “not so good things”.

While thanking the rugby gods his players came through injury free, Henry said the All Blacks were short of the mark in a number of areas.

“I am concerned about some areas. I thought we went to ground too early and we didn’t blow past the ball [at rucks], but that got better in the second half.’

“Some credit has to go to Canada.

“They contested strongly at the tackle area, they’ve got some big boys and they were strong and competitive and didn’t allow us to get into too much rhythm.
365 Digital

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