Rugby Club: South Africa v New Zealand is the biggest game in rugby

Last Updated: 11/10/13 11:12am

Sean Fitzpatrick and Thinus Delport say rugby does not get better than South Africa v New Zealand.

This is a game that is being vaunted as the biggest of the year as the latest chapter in rugby's fiercest rivalry prepares to unfold.

The two teams clash on Saturday at Ellis Park, in Johannesburg with the Rugby Championship title still up for grabs.

South Africa need a four-try victory and stop New Zealand from picking up a bonus point if they want to win - but that is not the driving force behind either team, says Fitzpatrick.

"This is what it is all about, they are our greatest foe and that is no disrespect to any other country," said the former All Blacks skipper.

"As a youngster you grow up watching New Zealand v the Springboks. To have played at Ellis Park in 1992 and again in 1995 and to lose, I know what it is like.

"This is huge. This is not about the Championship, this is about beating South Africa."

Former Springbok full-back Delport agrees, but says winning the Rugby Championship would be a bonus for South Africa.

"I agree with Fitzy, this is more than the Championship, more than the World Cup," he said.

"It is just such a massive game and all the attention will be on beating the All Blacks first and foremost.

"If the Championship comes then that is a bonus but it is all about beating the All Blacks."


Much has been made of the Springbok scrum and whether New Zealand can combat their physicality, but Fitzpatrick has no doubt that they have got what it takes.

"I think they can match them," he said. "Brodie Retallick has played outstandingly well but the loose forward trio is key for me.

"I like what I saw in Steven Luatua early on - but they have kept Liam Messam in at No.6 for his experience. The physicality from the loose trio of the All Blacks is huge but you look at those two All Blacks locks.

"They are up against two very good Springbok locks but Retallick for me is a player who has really stepped up to the mark and has added that real, physical presence. His lineout work is outstanding - on our ball and on the opposition ball.

"Engelbrecht is a nice fluid runner - a bit more of a winger with a lovely outside break."

Thinus Delport

"New Zealand cannot allow South Africa to bully them like the way the Australians were bullied last weekend - especially in that first 20 minutes.

"We have to take them on physically and our backs can operate if the forwards go forward and stop the Boks getting their go forward."

Three weeks ago South Africa lost 29-15 to the All Blacks in Auckland but would have had more of a chance if they had not been reduced to 14 men.

Springbok hooker Bismarck Du Plessis was sent off after earning a second yellow card, although he was later exonerated for his first yellow for that tackle on Dan Carter.

And Delport says it is crucial that in this game South Africa have all 15 players on the pitch.


"I have been very impressed with the discipline of the Springboks this year," explained Delport. "We have conceded the least amount of penalties so far.

"But the crucial ones have been the yellow card offences which have been for foul play - that is something we really need to look at.

"We cannot afford to play without 15 men for the full 80 minutes against the All Blacks. They are just too good and too fast.

"We need the physicality to slow them down at the breakdown, it will put the All Blacks on the back foot - we don't want them on the front foot. We need to stop them at source and that is scrum time and that is lineout time."

This All Black side may not have many players who have experienced Ellis Park before but they do have some experienced players to call upon - most notably the centre pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith who have recently become the most capped centre partnership of all time.

They will be up against the relatively new combination of Jean De Villiers and either JJ Engelbrecht or Jan Serfontein depending on whether Engelbrecht passes a late fitness test.

"The centre pairing is still developing and if Engelbrecht is injured then Serfontein will come in which will change the dynamics of that pairing," added Delport.

"Engelbrecht is a nice fluid runner - a bit more of a winger with a lovely outside break while both De Villiers and Serfonten are more direct players.

"But De Villiers has grown in stature and maturity, he can distribute with confidence now and he has that really strong direct route. It's going to be a big threat in that midfield."

Don't miss the biggest game of the year as South Africa take on New Zealand, live on Sky Sports 4 HD from 3pm or you can watch all the action unfold with a 24-hour Sky Sports Day Pass from NOW TV. For more information visit click here