One of the most intriguing battles at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday will be the one between the two flyhalves.
New Zealand’s Dan Carter is widely regarded as the finest exponent of No 10 play currently on he circuit, while Butch James’s reputation is of a slightly more sinister nature. Carter has on more than a few occasions been the match-winner against the South African teams, but has never won with the All Blacks in South Africa.
The only previous occasion Carter featured as a flyhalf for the All Blacks in South Africa was in Cape Town last year, where he was hassled into mistakes as the All Blacks lost 22-16. Stop Carter, the theory goes, and you stop the All Blacks.
While it is not as simple as that as the team is full of match winners, it is a start and the man charged with doing just that is James. He will be playing his third Test in-a-row after recovering from injury.
“Butch is definitely an extremely physical flyhalf and a good defender,” Carter told keo.co.za. “He brings a real strength to the Springboks play and it is something we will have to get around.”
“Last week after the game was huge relief that we had wrapped it up, but now we have different challenges posed to us. We have certain goals that we want to achieve in the next couple of weeks.”
The All Blacks are viewing their South African sojourn as a two-Test series. It is the first time the two old enemies have faced each other in back-to-back Tests since the All Blacks toured South Africa for a three-Test tour a decade ago. They won that 2-1 and want to repeat the dose in the next two weeks.
“It would be great if we could go home 2-0 winners from here. We have not been that successful in the last couple of years over here so we are pretty keen to resurrect that. We know how well the South African teams play at home so it is a huge challenge for us.”
“It’s the one place we have failed to get a win for a few years so we have come here to fix that. It is going to be tough at altitude.”
Playing on the Highveld though is sure to aid Carter with his already prodigious boot. â€œI will go to Loftus on Friday and get a feel for it. The ball definitely travels further here than at the coast.â€
By Andrew Hollely