Leon lauds Boks

The All Blacks, despite 22 wins and a draw in their last 31 matches against the Springboks, continued to talk up the South Africans ahead of Saturday’s Vodacom Tri nations test in Pretoria.

Earlier in the week it was Dan Carter and Chris Jack who spoke of the enormous challenge of winning in South Africa, with both players speaking of the desire to succeed Sean Fitzpatrick’s 1996 team and win back to back tests in South Africa.

The All Blacks have performed above average in South Africa, winning nine of their 15 tests since 1992, but their six defeats is something that only Australia, in Australia, have come close to matching in the same period. No other teams challenge the All Blacks or even run them close.

What troubles this current All Blacks team is that they have not won here in two years after having enjoyed an eight match winning streak against the Boks.

Listening to the All Blacks talk is similar to how the Crusaders sounded in the build-up to this year’s Super 14 match against the Bulls in Pretoria. We all know what happened that night. So don’t take it too seriously.

Today it was left to Leon Macdonald to emphasise how difficult it is to beat the Boks in South Africa.

“If you get a win here, you know it’s hard earned. It’s always a bit of a dogfight and you never come out of a game here feeling too flash afterwards. Your body’s always pretty beaten up and I’ve never had a comfortable flight home after playing in South Africa.”

MacDonald said it was important for the All Blacks to play well because of the competition within the squad. He also highlighted last year’s 22-16 defeat in Cape Town as additional motivation to get a result.

“Even though the Tri Nations is finished, there’s a lot for us to achieve over here. We’ve lost here the last two years in a row so there’s still plenty of motivation,” said MacDonald. “Playing for the All Blacks you are always playing for your career. The majority of the guys will be thinking they want to push their chances. There’s end of the year tour spots up for grabs and the ultimate goal is the World Cup. Every chance you get to impress is a crucial one.”

MacDonald will play at fullback, having also played at centre in the 29-9 win against the Boks at the 2003 World Cup and at flyhalf in last year’s 31-27 win in Dunedin.