Kiwis give struggling SA the thumbs up

South Africa’s Vodacom Super 14 challenge may seem over, but Chiefs coach Ian Foster believes the South Africans are not the easy beats of the last decade.

Foster went as far as to say that while an SA side may not win the tournament the matches in South Africa would hugely influence the top four standings.

He made it clear that teams would have to work for every point in South Africa, while adding that the Sharks’ performances overseas ensured that New Zealand and Aussie teams would have to play well to beat them.

Foster did not make mention of the Cats away form, but having seen his side lose to a 14-man Cats team in Johannesburg, he knows they can be a different animal when at home.

“We certainly discovered that they are pretty fired up over there in South Africa,” Foster told Duncan Johnstone of XtraMSN Rugby. “They may not be changing the way they play but they have certainly changed their attitude that they play with.

“I think you have seen with the Sharks in the last few weeks pushing the Crusaders to the last five minutes and giving the Waratahs and Brumbies a good bash, these teams are here to play this year. Nothing is going to come easy when you play the South Africans this year.”

Foster’s comments follow that of Stirling Mortlock, who a week earlier said the South African team had taken a step up in intensity and attitude. He also attributed to the relegation battle and that there are no guarantees that the SA team finishing last will play in the 2007 Vodacom Super 14.