rugby

‘Confident’ All Blacks want big start against Springboks

Captain Read targets early lead to extend winning run in Rugby Championship

AFP
17:16 September 16, 2016

Christchurch: New Zealand captain Kieran Read has hammered home the message he does not want a repeat of last week’s start against Argentina when they play South Africa in Christchurch on Saturday.

The All Blacks are confident they can take the Springboks in the fourth-round Rugby Championship match and possibly wrap up the title if Australia beat Argentina in the other match.

However, Read said they do not want another slow start after slipping behind Argentina three times in the first 50 minutes of their last match before eventually taking command to pull off a convincing 57-22 victory.

He said they need a strong opening against a Springbok side looking to atone for consecutive losses against Argentina and Australia.

“We don’t really want to be focusing too much on them but if we can get a start in terms of our physicality and a bit of intensity in our own play then the scoreboard does funny things to teams,” Read said Friday as the All Blacks wrapped up training.

“If we can get a lead obviously that helps, but we know it will take a big effort against the Boks tomorrow night.”

The All Blacks are rated overwhelming favourites to extend their winning streak, which currently stands at 14, with the misfiring Springboks under attack for their woeful return of one win from three matches.

Former South Africa coach Nick Mallett has branded then a “B division” outfit, saying they were shown up last week by “a poor Australian side, lacking confidence”.

But Read did not accept the criticism, believing the Springboks would find an extra gear to face the All Blacks.

“This Springboks team will be pretty eager to prove some people wrong,” he said, adding the All Blacks remained confident.

“I don’t think I’ve ever not had that feeling in an All Blacks jersey. We go out every game, some games are a lot harder and tougher than others, but you always have confidence in your own ability as a group.

“Tomorrow is no different, but in saying that it doesn’t mean we don’t respect what the opposition is going to throw at us.”