SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer has instructed his team to enter tomorrow’s Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Dunedin with a positive mind-set and to cut out the "soft moments" to bolster their chances of creating an upset against the world champions.
With a win, a draw and a defeat to their name in the series, compared with the All Blacks’ impressive run of three victories, the Springboks will enter the clash as underdogs.
History also favours the hosts, as the Boks have won only one of their eight Tests in Dunedin.
Despite the odds stacked heavily against Meyer’s men to topple the log leaders, the coach believes his team showed enough positive signs against Australia to challenge the hosts.
However, he was under no illusions about the threat New Zealand posed and said a win would require a complete performance.
Fortunately for the Boks, the home team will be missing star playmaker Dan Carter due to a calf injury, but Aaron Cruden has proved to be a fine replacement. The All Blacks boast attacking threats throughout their match 22 so the Boks will have to be at their best.
"The All Blacks have great depth and experience … and they have a captain who leads from the front, so they are a quality team," said Meyer.
"What makes them a particularly good side is that they win games even on days when they don’t get things 100% right and they can play any type of game … they also don’t have many weaknesses. Their set pieces and defence are great and they have playmakers who can convert half-chances into points."
However, he was confident his team were on the right track.
"We’ve improved since the first Test and there are some areas of our play I am happy with. But we have soft moments and you cannot afford that against New Zealand because they will punish you every time. If they get into the lead, they can put you away with 30 points.
"But we have to go into the game with a positive mind-set and believe we can win. If we go there with a negative mind-set to simply keep the score down, it won’t help.
"It is also important that we play to our strengths and we did that for 60 minutes against Australia."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen declared his respect for the Boks despite their average performance.
"New Zealand’s history with the Springboks is such that they will always be the traditional foe … playing South Africa is the ultimate … this week is all about what we are going to be allowed to do and what we need to do to stop them. They are a big side, they are physical and we have to match that physicality."
The battle at the breakdowns, in particular, will be decisive, especially with New Zealand captain and flank Richie McCaw looming large. Bok flank Francois Louw and his team-mates will have their work cut out in the rucks.
Zane Kirchner; Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Dean Greyling, Andries Bekker, Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Juan de Jongh, Pat Lambie.
ALL BLACKS SQUAD
Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Liam Messam; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Victor Vito, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Tamati Ellison.