The All Blacks are eager to claim bragging rights over the world champion Springboks but expect a much-improved South Africa performance in Townsville this weekend, fly-half Beauden Barrett said Monday.
The Rugby Championship fifth-round clash on Saturday will be the 100th Test between the southern hemisphere heavyweights and Barrett said the New Zealanders were keenly aware of the fixture’s history. It will also be the first time in a decade the All Blacks have faced a reigning world champion, which Barrett admitted added spice to the occasion. “It’s been a while since we played the Boks and the first time for me personally and any of the team playing against the world champs,” he told reporters.
“It’s a rivalry that has a long tradition and lots of very memorable games, there’s a proud history and I can’t wait to hopefully play the 100th on the weekend.” South Africa were world champions when they played New Zealand in the Tri-Nations in 2011, before the All Blacks claimed back-to-back titles.
The teams have contrasting fortunes heading into Saturday’s match, with the All Blacks undefeated in this year’s tournament and regaining the world number one ranking, while the Boks have lost twice to Australia.
Barrett did not believe the South Africans’ recent disappointments would have any bearing on Saturday’s match. Lock Brodie Retallick said dealing with South Africa’s rush defence would be crucial.