ABs shift focus to Boks

 Oct 01,2012
Written by: Editor

Despite already securing the inaugural Rugby Championship title, New Zealand are keen to finish the tournament with an unbeaten record.

While there have been suggestions the All Blacks might lose some focus after putting 50 points past Argentina to convincingly wrap up the competition with a game against the Springboks to spare, they dispelled any thoughts of slowing down against their old rivals at in Soweto on Saturday.

A win in South Africa in its own right is highly prized, forwards Sam Cane and Sam Whitelock said.

"We've won the championship but we've parked that now," young flanker Cane said.

"What we're focused on is winning over here. They've always been big Test matches and it's always more rewarding, hearing from the older guys, to win over here because of the challenge."

But for top-ranked New Zealand, yet another victory would also allow it to finish the tournament with six wins and a 16th consecutive Test victory - one of the best winning runs by a top-tier nation, which New Zealand and South Africa share.

"The challenge for us to play well this week and put a solid performance together is huge," second-row Whitelock said.

"With the competition being new, it will be great to start it off with a clean sweep."

A second straight victory in Soweto for the All Blacks -following their come-from-behind success in 2010 - would also be sweeter than most.

"We talked about last week playing against the Argentinians at home and then coming to play the South Africans here," Cane said. "They are probably the toughest two places to win in world rugby. If we can do that, we'll be pretty happy."

The Springboks showed a mini-revival to physically batter Australia in Pretoria last weekend. The Test now for New Zealand's players is to shrug off a long trip from Argentina and the effect of the altitude up on the South African highveld - where the Springboks tend to be at their strongest.

Whitelock said the problem of fatigue would be "next to minimum" by the weekend.

Instead, negating the influence of about 90,000 people at the thunderous stadium formerly known as Soccer City and the venue for the 2010 football World Cup final was more of a factor.

The All Blacks did that brilliantly in La Plata against the Pumas, silencing a rowdy Argentinian crowd with a clinical first-half display despite conceding an early try.

"I guess the big thing they've got is that they'll have about 90,000 Africans behind them," explained Cane.

"We'll want to start well. "And similar to what we did on Saturday, take the crowd out of it early."

Tags: International |  New Zealand | 

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