Two changes for Kiwis
05 October 2012 | HEINZ SCHENK
JOHANNESBURG - Industrious second rower Luke Romano – sporting a battle scar on the face to rival the Sharks’ Paul Jordaan from Kimberley a few weeks ago – is replaced by the promising Chiefs rookie Brodie Retallick while Hosea Gear comes on the wing for Julian Savea.
“Luke’s quite beaten up with that cut to his face,” said Hansen.
“By putting him among the reserves, he doesn’t need to overexert himself in training this week. He can come on late in the game and still be fine.”
The slippery Savea’s omission would’ve raised some eyebrows after some striking performances during the international season but Hansen’s prudent insistence on player management meant he wouldn’t play a role at Soccer City.
“He’s a fine young player who’s played particularly well over the past months but he needs a bit of a breather and needs to step back a bit. But we’ve got great confidence in Hosea, I’m excited to see him play.”
As it is, 28-year-old Gear has to shoulder a fair weight of expectation, especially after only playing two games in three months.
“I suppose it is going to be a bit tough,” he remarked.
“It’s probably going to be about momentum more than anything else. I haven’t had much time to go through the plays so as long as I’m doing the extra homework and do my bit, I’ll be fine.”
The experienced Highlanders left winger will be preoccupied with another challenge in having to stem the rampant form of his direct opponent in Bryan Habana – fresh off a hat-trick at Loftus.
“He’s one of the quickest guys in world rugby and the No 1 winger for a long time. It’s a good opportunity to measure myself up against him, I’m really excited about it,” said Gear.
Both Hansen and Gear concurred that they expected the Boks to continue adopting a more pronounced if measured emphasis on attack with the All Black mentor putting it particularly succinctly.
“If they’re playing in their half they’ll kick it and in our half they’ll run it and look to get continuity. There’ll be a lot more ball movement than in Dunedin.”
Talk has inevitably zeroed in on the All Blacks challenging for the world record for most consecutive wins (held by Lithuania with 19) – a win on the weekend would be No 16. But Hansen was unperturbed.
“Records are by-products of performing. Every Test we’re expected to win.”
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