The All Blacks are eyeing a double victory in South Africa after struggling in recent seasons to beat the Springboks at home.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry has vowed to improve his team’s record in South Africa after they retained the Bledisloe Cup against Australia at the weekend.
The 13-9 win in Brisbane provided the All Blacks with their 13th straight Test victory and tightened their grip on the Vodacom Tri-Nations. But the South Africa have not lost to the New Zealanders at home since Jake white took over as coach at the start of 2004.
“Winning in Australia is huge but we’d like to take another step and win in South Africa,” said Henry. “We haven’t done that for a while so that’ll be the next goal, I guess.”
In a golden 12 months for New Zealand rugby, they won the 2005 Tri-Nations, beat England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and downed the Lions 3-0.
But they lost to South Africa in Cape Town last year and also lost in Johannesburg in 2004 to concede the Tri-Nations championship to the Springboks that year.
New Zealand beat South Africa in Wellington two weeks ago but still have to play the Springboks twice in SA in this year’s expanded Tri-Nations, in which the teams play each other three times.
New Zealand were not at their very best against Australia but their defence was formidable in the face of intense second-half pressure.
And Henry singled out the performance of his inspirational captain Richie McCaw. “You can’t play better than that,” Henry said of McCaw. I thought he was the outstanding individual player of the game. He was superb.”
The Australian players were also full of praise for McCaw’s work-rate after he pulled off 19 tackles, including two try-savers on Stephen Larkham and Mark Gerrard.
“He’s anywhere and everywhere, it seemed like we were playing four or five of him,” Gerrard said.