New Zealand vs Springboks – 10 July 2010
After many weeks of soccer and rather ho-hum incoming Northern Hemisphere tours, the Tri-Nations has finally arrived.
This year it all kicks off with a battle between the Springboks and the All Blacks, the two best teams in the world, facing off at Eden Park, Auckland. The Springboks last won here in 1937, when there was no salary paid and no padding and rugby was still played with a pig’s bladder.
Back in those days tighthead props kicked the ball high and true and an almanac would only cost you 1/- which seems pretty cheap, although I am not too familiar with the slash hyphen currency.
On to this saturday and Pieter de Villiers has chosen what looks to be a very physically imposing side, with Bakkies (reckless into rucks) Botha back in the starting team and Danie (playing some of his best rugby ever) Russouw on the bench. Zane Kirchner is at fullback and Wynand Olivier will partner Jaque Fourie in the midfield, with Jean de Villiers again being played on the wing.
Olivier was one of the best centres in this year’s Super 14 and deserves his starting place in the match day 15. He has not yet managed to play with the same form in a Springbok jersey but what better chance than against the All Blacks to prove his doubters wrong. He has bulked up since last year and has been working hard on his physicality, not to mention his winner smile.
Judging by the pre-match interviews both teams see this as a must win first game. Perhaps more so for the All Blacks as they are currently on an unheard of 3-game losing streak against the defending champions. This is the most experienced team that Graham Henry has ever selected with (old man river) Joe Rokocoko on the wing and Ma’a (foul mouth) Nonu resuming what is a lethal midfield partnership with Conrad Smith.
The All Blacks have spoken of how they will be better prepared for whatever the Bokke throw their way be it an aerial bombardment or a more expansive game.
This game will be close and talk of ‘revenge’ and physicality means both of these teams will not give an inch. I expect us to kick for field position, punish them in the line outs and use our massive forwards to drive and maul it up.
Having said that, perhaps Pieter de Villiers has some surprises up his sleeve. I must say the way he has recently dealt with a hostile kiwi media has impressed me. He was direct and honest in his assessment of both teams but was not shy to throw in the odd random comment. Keep them guessing coach. More importantly how great is his tache looking? Only one man comes close.
Unfortunately the ref for this game is Alan (“Touch…. Paaauuuuuuuse”… looks at himself on the big screen, runs a hand through his hair… “Engage”) Lewis. Let’s hope he can keep up with the pace of what will be a cracking game.
Kick off: 9:35am
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Magnum’s Prediction: Bokke by 5