Springboks v All Blacks: Five talking points at Loftus Versfeld
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 07/10/18 12:07am
Five talking points as New Zealand aim to avenge their Wellington defeat to South Africa, live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 3.30pm on Saturday.
The Boks claimed a rare victory over the world champions in their own backyard in September, with a 36-34 success at Westpac Stadium. Rassie Erasmus' charges will be looking to do the double on their old rivals, while the All Blacks will have revenge on their mind...
Dyantyi and the South African anthem
The Springboks have called on the fans to mirror them this weekend by linking arm in arm during the South African anthem.
Winger Aphiwe Dyantyi says the hope is to inspire the whole nation, from all walks of life, to get behind the team.
"That takes us back to the dream of Mandela - the great Nelson Mandela," Dyantyi told Sky Sports on Thursday.
"His dream was just to see the country being united, and if us playing on the field can do that for the country, that will truly be amazing and an honour for me to be a part of."
Dyantyi said watching the Springboks play the All Blacks as a young boy gave him the belief to one day represent South Africa, and he aims to do the same for the next generation.
"How they conducted themselves on the field, you could see the passion and pride with which they played the sport.
"For me, that served as great motivation and inspiration and that's what I try and do as well - to try and be an inspiration to another kid somewhere who is dreaming."
The winger says he is looking forward to lining up in one of South Africa's favourite stomping grounds this weekend against their old foes.
"Playing at home, in front of a home crowd, at Pretoria - where the people love their rugby - it doesn't get much better than that."
"It's a wonderful ground, full of tradition," Miles Harrison said of Loftus Versfeld during this week's podcast. "You go to that dressing room area, you see the panelled walls and the pictures there of old players, and you get a real sense of the history of the game in this country.
"Then when you step out onto the pitch, you stand in front of the stand, and you see how it's almost vertical with the fans falling out of their seats, pouring their atmosphere and their emotion onto the players down below."
Located in Pretoria, home to Super Rugby's Bulls, the stadium is renowned in South Africa as a Springbok fortress.
The Wallabies have lost all seven of the Tests they've played at Loftus, while Wales were thrashed 96-13 in 1998 - current coach Erasmus one of seven Springbok try-scorers that day.
In fact, there are only three teams to have won at Loftus Versfeld; England won there in 1994, a 32-15 victory led by fly-half Rob Andrew, and the Lions have won three of their five Tests in Pretoria.
Other than that, New Zealand are the only team to have won there - and they've done it four times in five Tests.
Clearly it's a ground that does not intimidate New Zealanders, but with the 52,000-seater sold out for Saturday's clash, the South African fans will be out to make sure the Kiwis don't feel too comfortable when they run out onto the pitch.
Karl Tu'inukuafe has a more interesting story than most when it comes to his rise to international rugby - he had given up the sport completely when in 2014 he was told by his doctor that he needed to exercise in order to lose weight.
Back to his favourite sport he went, and a year later the 25-year-old was playing for North Harbour. In April of this year he made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs, and in June he made his Test debut in New Zealand's series win over France.
Despite not having a Super Rugby contract 12 months ago, the loosehead prop has taken to international rugby remarkably well, and has won fans the world over for his enthusiasm.
During the All Blacks press conference Tu'inukuafe said with a smile that the only time he allows himself dessert is after a match, and when asked if he enjoys the travel that comes with top-flight rugby, he replied: "Yeah, now that we get to lie down in the plane!"
However, like most props, when the game gets underway the friendly-giant persona makes way for a more intimidating presence, and the Boks will be wary of the threat posed by Tu'inukuafe at scrum time.
The front row battle is an interesting one, with Tu'inukuafe up against Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitsoff locking horns with Owen Franks. Add Codie Taylor and Malcolm Marx into the mix, and the scrums promise to offer plenty of fire on Saturday.
A set-piece arm wrestle normally suits the Boks, but in round five the All Blacks made a mockery of the Pumas' pack, and they will be aiming for more of the same forward dominance in Pretoria. It is unlikely that we will get 11 tries in this game as we did in Wellington, it stands to be a much more frugal game, which puts a bigger spotlight on the actions of the forwards up front.
Louw v Read
In New Zealand's game against Argentina in the fifth round, Ardie Savea started in the No 8 jersey for Steve Hansen's side, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe started in that position for the Boks against Australia in Port Elizabeth.
This week, both coaches have opted for experience, with Kieran Read back to skipper the All Blacks, and Bath's Francois Louw starting for South Africa.
"Notshe played well against the Wallabies last weekend and will offer us something different when he goes on," said Erasmus when naming his side this week. "But Flo (Louw) has a lot of experience and is good on the ground."
South Africa's flankers have been impressive, with Siya Kolisi offering ball-carrying options around the park and Pieter-Steph du Toit a tackling machine in this year's Rugby Championship. But in Francois Louw they now have a fetcher, which gives them a more balanced look.
For Louw to be effective, the rest of the forwards need to clean out the rucks to keep the Kiwi fetchers at bay, and New Zealand have a lot of fetchers, with Sam Cane one of the best in the world and Read more than comfortable over the ball.
It will require a team effort to win the breakdown battle, but it's fair to say the No 8 who comes out on top in the individual head to head in Pretoria will likely lead his side to victory.
Barrett and the potential drop goal
Beauden Barrett's kicking boots deserted him in his home ground in Wellington, but in Buenos Aires he came away with a perfect return from his kicks at goal.
Hansen said this week that goalkickers will invariably have an off day here and there, and his case was backed up by the fact that Handre Pollard was kicking poorly before the South African fly-half went on to smash everything between the uprights at Westpac Stadium in September.
In typically understated fashion, Hansen said of Barrett's improved kicking in Argentina: "I thoughts Beauds wasn't too bad last week."
New Zealanders will likely always be the kind of people who put more importance in going for the try than the three points, and Hansen said as much when he was asked if he would want his side to take a drop goal in Pretoria if the game situation required it.
The All Blacks boss responded that he and his side always discuss it as an option, but that it's not something that sits in the forefront of their mind.
"We've certainly talked about it - we'd talked about it before but we're not a nation, rightly or wrongly, that does a lot of drop kicks," said Hansen.
"If you look through history books there's not a lot of drop goals in our performances."
If things are close in Pretoria then expect that attitude to change, and Hansen will hope that Barrett is having one of his good days if they are trying to win the game with his boot.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Malcolm Marx, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Francois Louw.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 5 Scott Barrett, 6 Shannon Frizell, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Kieran Read (c).
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo'unga, 23 Ryan Crotty.