All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter says Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks are smarter than any other Bok team he has faced – and that’s what’s making the Kiwis the most uncomfortable.
Carter has rarely lost to the Springboks in a Test career spanning 96 matches and he’s always felt that the All Blacks have enjoyed success because they’ve been smarter and tactically more efficient against the physical South Africans.
But this Bok team, he told the media, is different to any Springbok team he has seen or played against.
‘I don’t know whether it’s surprised me or not but it’s something they probably haven’t done so well in the past. Their backs are scoring good tries, their outside backs are making breaks, and they’re a bit more of an all-round package – whereas in previous years they have been quite one-dimensional,’ said Carter.
‘We know physically they’re an awesome side, but with some of the tries they have been scoring they’ve been playing quite an open style. We have to confront them physically but the thing we have always prided ourselves on is having the ability to out-think them as well.
‘But it is going to be a challenge this week.’
Carter said Ma’a Nonu’s physical presence would be decisive in the All Blacks challenge but added that it all started and ended with the eight forwards.
He could only be as influential as his pack – and he felt the All Blacks would be facing their toughest Test since the 2011 World Cup final against France.
‘This is going to be the biggest match of our year so far, and even potentially one of the biggest since the World Cup because of the form they’re in,’ said Carter. ‘At home on Eden Park against an in-form Boks side – it’s an occasion you want to be part of.’