'They've outmuscled us': Retallick's plan to overcome Springboks
The match holds plenty of significance with it being the 100th test between New Zealand and South Africa, coming a century after their first meeting in Dunedin.
Speaking to media on Monday, Retallick made it clear the All Blacks are using the momentous occasion as inspiration as they look to secure the Rugby Championship title for the first time in three years.
“It’s going to be a massive occasion, 100th test between the two nations and we’re going into battle with each other. They’re the current world champions and they’ve earned that,” he said.
“Obviously we didn’t manage to do that in 2019, so I’m sure it’ll be a good one.”
The magnitude of the titanic clash isn’t likely to be marred by the recent form of the Springboks, who have fallen to second in the world rankings and trail the All Blacks by 10 points on the Rugby Championship table after falling to consecutive losses against the Wallabies over the past fortnight.
As such, two bonus-point wins are required from the South Africans against the Kiwis if they are to retain the Rugby Championship crown two years after they last won it.
However, major doubts have been cast on their title hopes following their performances against the Australians after their conservative style of play was successfully countered by a free-flowing, attacking brand of rugby implemented by the Wallabies.
Under head coach Dave Rennie, Australia have adopted a similar style of play to that of the All Blacks, and after the New Zealanders cruised to a successful Bledisloe Cup defence against their trans-Tasman rivals in recent weeks, Ian Foster’s men are heavily tipped to get the job done against the Springboks.
Even in spite of his unbeaten record against South Africa at test level, Retallick has maintained that much is easier said than done, though, as pinpointed where the Springboks have had the edge over the All Blacks in years gone by.
“I think where they’ve caught us out the last couple of times was, when they did, through their line speed, defensively,” the 30-year-old lock said.
“They’ve outmuscled us and we haven’t been able to break them down through our attack and then they’ve punished us.
Two former All Blacks greats have clashed over who should start at fullback for in this week’s Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks in Townsville. #AllBlacks #Springboks #NZLvRSA #RugbyChampionship #TRC2021 https://t.co/eeLhkJSgpr
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 21, 2021
“I think, physically, you’ve always got the set piece battle, but dealing with their line speed and being able to make breaches and then convert them is going to be massive.”
According to the 87-test veteran, the best way for the All Blacks to negate South Africa’s in-your-face defence is by continuing to play positively and avoiding continual set piece battles, an aspect of the game the Springboks are strong in.
“From our point of view, it’s what we do with the ball, and we don’t want to get caught up on going set piece to set piece,” Retallick said.
“If that does happen in periods, then we need to be able to control it and front there, but I think, like we touched on just before, the freedom the boys are playing with and using the ball and creating opportunities is no doubt how we want to play our game.”
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