Springboks to stick with conservative approach

SAME GAME PLAN: Conrad Smith at All Blacks training.
SAME GAME PLAN: Conrad Smith at All Blacks training.

Conrad Smith doesn't believe Dunedin's enclosed stadium will seduce the conservative Springboks into making any reckless moves on Saturday night.

Although ball and grass are guaranteed to be dry under the covered arena, All Black centre Smith cannot see the South Africans burning their orthodox playbooks.

But he maintains that does not make it easier to unpick their game plan.

“You would like to think we have a fair idea how most teams play - but you still have to deal with it and I think that's one of the strengths of South Africa," Smith noted.

“They don't mind playing a similar game week in, week out. But they back themselves to put opposition under pressure even if you know what they are doing.

“I don't think that will change this week."

With former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer and playmaker Morne Steyn controlling the side, the Springboks have displayed little flair or innovation during the Rugby Championship.

Coach Meyer has drawn some dissatisfaction from some fans in the Republic for managing only a win, draw and loss in the matches against Argentina and Australia.

Last week's dour 26-19 loss to the Wallabies in Perth resulted in an increase in the critics' tempo for Meyer to change his No 10 and he has options in the more flamboyant Johan Goosen and Patrick Lambie.

However, Meyer, whose links with Morne Steyn stretch back to when they worked together at the Bulls, is not tipped to rewrite his game plans following the Perth loss.

Rather than try to shock the New Zealanders by unfurling an unpredictable attack, Meyer is predicted to demand better execution in a chess-with-muscle approach.

One of the Boks' most potent attackers is Frans Steyn.

Steyn, who played second-five in Perth and had spent several seasons playing in France before returning to Durban late in the Super Rugby season, last confronted the All Blacks in 2009.

The Springboks' kick-and-chase game flourished under the experimental law variations when they won the Tri Nations title that season.

Steyn kicked three massive penalties - the biggest was from 60 metres out - in their 32-29 win in Hamilton before heading to France.

He returned for the World Cup but was invalided out before the playoffs because of injury.

“He's different player, he has a different skill-set. I haven't played him much at all, really, at any level," Smith said in reference to the talented Steyn.

“But the Springboks, like any team, like to win the physicality stakes and he's the same in that regard."

Smith concurred the All Blacks were searching for a more polished effort after their ragged display in the 21-5 win over Argentina last weekend.

“The opposition had a fair bit to do with that. They were as much to do with our performance as the conditions last week. I don't think we handled them well, early, the Argentinians, and I think we adapted better as the game went on.

“We have just got to make sure we deal with the Africans and everything they pose immediately and hopefully get our game under way."

The Press