Rejigged Springboks pose threat to All Blacks

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2012
Jaco Taute
Photosport
WINNING FORM: Jaco Taute in action for the Springboks during their win over the Wallabies in Pretoria.

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Los Pumas changed their spots when attempting to mimic the All Blacks' expansive approach and now the Rugby Championship holders are expecting to confront a different form of beast on the South African highveld.

Argentina's willingness to shed their attacking inhibitions contributed to an entertaining spectacle at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata on Sunday and although the Springboks' physicality is expected to be as strong a component as ever in Soweto this weekend, Morne Steyn's omission hints at a shift in mindset.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer chose Johan to occupy the pivotal role at Loftus Versfeld against the Wallabies.

The tactical switch was justified as South Africa swamped a severely depleted Wallabies squad 31-8.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen noted the change in approach.

“They've made some changes to their team and as a result they've changed how they play slightly and I think that's improved them,” he said, before the All Blacks embarked on a nine-hour flight to Johannesburg.

“If they stick with that selection [Goosen over Steyn], it's going to be an interesting game.”

The All Blacks land without any serious injury concerns.

Conrad Smith and Luke Romano needed stitches to stem the bleeding after accidental clashes but they are not expected to be in doubt for their Rugby Championship finale - a contest that has the added incentive of enabling the All Blacks to stretch their current winning streak to 16.

Hansen was coy about the potential of resting players now the new symbol of southern hemisphere rugby supremacy was part of their baggage allowance, though widespread changes are unlikely given the significance of the final leg of an itinerary they are managing for the first time.

Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter had the benefit of taking the last quarter off at La Plata while Hansen could afford to empty the bench and also give hooker Andrew Hore and first choice halfback Aaron Smith some respite before another physically demanding challenge in a hostile environment.

The All Blacks played in Soweto for the first time in 2010 and needed late tries to McCaw and Israel Dagg to mute a crowd of more than 94,000. The All Blacks trailed 32-8 at halftime that day.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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