De Villiers: Boks can 'definitely win both games against All Blacks'
Former Springboks midfielder Jean de Villiers is backing Jacques Nienaber’s squad to deliver a 2-0 series win over the wounded All Blacks. The Rugby Championship begins this Saturday in Nelspruit with South Africa hosting New Zealand and the rivals will then face off a second time in Johannesburg on August 13.
Whereas the Springboks head into the series on the back of their 2-1 series win over Wales last month, the All Backs have their backs pinned firmly to the wall following a run of results that has seen them win just once in their last five matches.
The fallout from their recent 1-2 series defeat to Ireland resulted in Ian Foster altering his backroom staff. However, with the upcoming games set to be played at altitude, the odds are still very much stacked in favour of the Springboks, who have named a team showing three changes from the win last time out versus the Welsh.
It’s a consensus that de Villiers has given his fulsome backing to, the 109-cap former midfielder believing the time is ripe for the Springboks to reclaim the Freedom Cup – the trophy contested each year against the All Blacks – for the first time since 2009.
Speaking to BokSquad, the official supporters’ club of South African Rugby, de Villiers said: “The All Blacks have been poor results-wise and will want to rectify that in South Africa. They are struggling with certain areas of their game, which the Boks will want to exploit.
“Another factor is that New Zealand’s players no longer play Super Rugby in South Africa. In the past, they would get to play at altitude during Super Rugby so it wouldn’t have too much of an effect on them in the Tri-Nations or Rugby Championship. Many of their players who come to South Africa this year won’t be used to it, which will benefit the Boks.
“The Boks will obviously look to exploit areas of weakness in the All Blacks’ game and I hope they have learned from last year’s two matches against them. The Boks lost the first game narrowly after showing no ambition with ball in hand.
“In the second game, which they won, they did keep ball in hand and took their opportunities to attack. That is when the Boks are at their best, the 2019 World Cup final being a prime example.
“The Boks put teams under pressure by playing the game they play – a strong, solid first phase, big defence and a good kicking game – but if they can get the balance right in terms of attack, and keep ball in hand when the opportunity is there, then they can definitely win both games against the All Blacks.”
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