The New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick has said that he expects it will be a tough game when they play the resurgent South Africa side in their top-of-the-table Rugby Championship match in Auckland next weekend.
Meetings between the teams are usually incredibly hard fought but last year the rivalry calmed down a bit when the All Blacks won 41-13 at home and 57-15 in Durban.
However, South Africa seem to have recovered from their disappointing 2016 and will be going into this match just three points behind New Zealand after a 23-23 draw with Australia last weekend.
Speaking this week Retallick said, “We all know the way the South Africans play. We’ve seen the last couple of weeks how physical they’ve been, especially up front. As always, they’re big boys and they like to come at you. Every Test is special, but from what we’ve seen so far in the Rugby Championship, they’ve had two great wins over Argentina and they’ll be a little bit frustrated with the draw against Australia in Perth. They’ll be coming here with a bit of anger, and with the skill and physicality they’re playing with, I’m sure it’s going to be a good spectacle.”
Over the weekend South Africa coach Allister Coetzee said that he was disappointed with the draw but proud of the way the team fought back from 10 points down early in the second half to maintain their unbeaten record this year.
He was also encouraged by the way Argentina managed to pressure the All Blacks in the first hour of their defeat in New Plymouth.
“I don’t see any weaknesses in the All Black side,” said Coetzee. “I think they are vulnerable but you still have to be at your best to exploit that. They have obviously stepped up when they have needed to. You cannot afford to lose concentration or focus. In the last 20 minutes they can easily score 20 points.”