Attacking approach expected from South Africa in Auckland
Watch out for a different style of play from the Springboks when they meet New Zealand in the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship Test at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.
That's the view of top South African journalist Gavin Rich in his BusinessDay column.
Rich said the game had extra intrigue because both teams have evolved since their last meeting in Johannesburg last year.
"South Africans should be eager to see how their team goes against the old enemy given that this is the first time the Boks will play the All Blacks since they flicked the switch to a more dynamic and varied game on the last end-of-year tour.
"There were many who felt the decision to run back-kick receipt and mix up their game more was driven by circumstance last November, but the evidence of a shift to a flexible game plan was clear for all to see when the Boks thumped the Wallabies 43-12 at Loftus."
Rich was surprised the Wallabies were unprepared for the change because coach Eddie Jones had said the Springboks were a team bringing something new.
"Perhaps he just forgot to communicate it to his players, who were guilty of giving the Boks too much space on defence, an indication that they felt Duane Vermeulen's team were going to kick back at them rather than run.
"It was a stark contrast from the old Bok staple of contestable kicks and driving mauls...The key is that the Boks have added angles to their game and played to their strengths, such as the pace and X-factor of their back-three players, without eschewing their known core strengths.
"What they've come up with is a blend of power and skill."
Will the Springboks continue playing that game against the All Blacks?
Rich believes they will because they don't have a first five-eighths to play the South Africans' traditional tactical game.
With Handre Pollard injured, the Springboks had the more dynamic attackers Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse to play the different style. Pollard showed what he could do when scoring two tries against the All Blacks in their 2014 game at Ellis Park.
But he had played a more defensive style as required of him since then.
"Somehow, it is hard to see either Libbok of Willemse or Elton Jantjies, the fourth flyhalf, reverting to the old stereotype. That will make an interesting clash with a team that started to evolve to a more direct style after they were blitzed by the Boks in Nelspruit last August.
"That game feels like just the other day, but in rugby terms it might as well be decades ago in terms of the game evolution of both teams. The Kiwis will be up against a Bok team that will approach the game very differently to what they are used to facing down when they play their traditional rivals."
All Blacks v South Africa: Saturday 15 July, 7.05pm NZT, Go Media Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland. Live on Sky Sport NZ