Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Nienaber excited about Boks v All Blacks at Twickenham: ‘A special occasion’

"When New Zealand and South Africa play against each other it’s one of those Test matches that you want to win because of the big rivalry."

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is excited for what he expects to be a ‘great experience’ for both the Boks and the All Blacks when they clash in their final World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham on Friday night.

It is the second clash between the two sides this season, but is unique in that it is their first meeting on neutral ground outside of the World Cup, which will add a bit of spice to the match-up.

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“It’s a special occasion and an exciting one for us. I have never been involved in playing New Zealand in a game like this. Obviously the other neutral ground we played them on was in Yokohama during the (2019) World Cup,” said Nienaber.

“So having them as a warm-up game at Twickenham is really exciting for us and them as well I think. I don’t know who will have the most support but I think it’s going to be a very nice occasion and a great experience for both teams.

“It is almost a win at all costs match. When New Zealand and South Africa play against each other it’s one of those Test matches that you want to win because of the big rivalry.”

The Boks were guilty of a very slow start in their previous match this season during the Rugby Championship in Auckland, where New Zealand took a 17-0 lead in the opening quarter before going on to win the match 35-20.

Improved showing

The Boks will thus be eager to put in an improved showing in their final match before the World Cup in France and they will be aiming to build on the record win they picked up against Wales over the past weekend.

“If you look at these two warm-ups, Wales is a team that you really need to grind against. While with New Zealand I wouldn’t say their style of play is opposite but it is different. So we get the benefit of playing against the best of both styles of play before the World Cup,” said Nienaber.

“If you look at New Zealand and the game we played against them (in Auckland), they are obviously a team that wants to get off to a fast start. We were under pressure in that first 20 minutes until we got back into the game after that.

“I am expecting a high tempo game with a lot of continuity, looking for offloads, unpredictably and them trying to speed up the game, which is what we are expecting from New Zealand.”

Nienaber continued: “That’s not taking away that they also have a proper set piece. Sometimes one can focus so much on the razzle dazzle that you forget that they have got a solid scrum, they’ve got a good maul and score maul tries, they stop your mauls and scrums well.

“So they have a very good set piece and on top of that they’ve got this fast, quick game that we will have to handle.”

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