All Blacks plan to expose youngster Goosen
LIAM NAPIER IN JOHANNESBURG
Rookie first five-eighth Johan Goosen helped restore faith in the Springboks last week, but the All Blacks plan to expose his inexperience in the heat of test arena on Sunday in Soweto.
Richie McCaw sat out most of the All Blacks' first light session in 30-degree heat at Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg today.
McCaw notably grimaced after copping a stray arm from Ben Franks on the knee haematomata that's still giving him issues.
However, the All Blacks captain's limited participation was considered a precaution and his ice-pack was removed by the end of training.
After their impressive and physically demanding victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires, minor tweaks to the starting side would make sense when the All Blacks reveal their team tomorrow evening (NZT). Wholesale changes are not likely with the world champions keen to further stamp their authority by finishing the tournament unbeaten.
Centre Conrad Smith is sporting a nasty black eye and lock Luke Romano looks like he came off second best with Edward Scissor Hands as a result of friendly fire against the Pumas, but, at this stage, the tourists have a fully fit squad to select from.
"The doc was pretty busy," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said. "Luke has got three separate cuts on his face so it made a bit of a splash, but he's all good. Cuts like that heal pretty quickly."
Having played 148 games for Waikato and the Chiefs at No 10, Foster knows a thing or two about the pivotal role - and how to test out the men trusted with performing the crucial tasks.
It was no surprise Foster analysed Goosen's starting debut against the Wallabies in Pretoria last week.
While he noted the 20-year-old added balance and was a major contributor to the Boks significantly improved execution, he hinted there were weaknesses in his game after just three tests.
"As a 10 you have to make your tackles," Foster said. "He'll be put under pressure. Hopefully, if we attack well, we'll expose him in one-on-one situations.
"He had a good campaign with the Cheetahs. He's a fine goal kicker. He distributes the ball well and he's quite happy to run if it's on. He's a good all round player, but he's still finding his feet in the international game. This one on Sunday is going to be big for him."
Those comments suggest the All Blacks won't differ from targeting the inside channels with powerful ball carriers. Goosen can expect plenty of traffic from the likes of Ma'a Nonu, Kieran Read and Liam Messam.
Goosen's promotion over Morne Steyn has been a focal talking point. It was a big call by South African coach Heyneke Meyer, who has a long-held loyalty to Steyn after bringing him through as a junior at the Bulls.
Ultimately, Meyer gave in to intense public pressure and finally turned to Goosen's natural attacking instincts in his time of need.
"They've had a lot of success with Morne Steyn there. They weren't happy with that formula in Dunedin so they've changed that," Foster said. "Certainly it looked like they've got intentions to play with more width than they did against us in Dunedin and we expect that to continue.
"They may chuck a few different things at us. They seem to have got a lot of confidence from the way they played last week."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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