Boks must deliver

The Wallabies, in their current guise, are not a good enough team to beat the Springboks in South Africa.

But they won’t get blown away in Cape Town. If this match was being played in Johannesburg or Pretoria it would be more humiliation for Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

In Cape Town, the environment is far more charitable to visiting teams. The foreign players love the city and they also enjoy playing at Newlands.

The Springboks have never been as potent at Newlands as they have been up north. There have been some fantastic Springbok performances in Cape Town over the years, but there have also been indifferent ones because of weather conditions and a more subdued nature among the spectators.

The Boks will win in Cape Town, but do expect to see a hugely improved Wallabies effort from the one produced in Brisbane.

Also expect the Wallabies to play with more rugby intelligence than they did in Brisbane. Their approach in Brisbane was naïve and not particularly insightful.

They believed they could run the Bok heavies around and run the Boks off their feet. Many a team has tried that, even some of the best All Blacks sides, but very few have succeeded.

The game still starts up front and if a side is to flourish with their attack the forwards still have to be in the contest.

In Brisbane the Boks manhandled the Wallabies like rag dolls. Several Wallabies, post the thrashing, spoke of their surprise at the Boks’ intensity and physicality.

There won’t be a surprise element in Cape Town. The Boks simply have to land the big blows, legally of course, in the first quarter.

The Wallabies will show passion, as they did in Wellington against the All Blacks, but just like in that game, they don’t have the capacity to upset the Boks in South Africa.

It is a difficult week for the Springboks because they are expected to win and, if they are to set themselves up with a chance of winning the Rugby Championship, they will want to win with a bonus point.

But any talk of a bonus point must be secondary to getting the win first. They can only control their own performance and emphasizing the bonus point before the victory is asking for trouble.

The All Blacks have a four point log advantage but the Boks have a superior points for and against.

The Boks can’t allow themselves to even think of what the All Blacks will do in Argentina against the Pumas.

I’d be surprised if the All Blacks get the bonus-point win there. They did last year in playing brilliant attacking rugby, but then the Pumas played right into their hands by also attempting an expansive style of play.

Expect the Pumas to be more bruising in their approach and to play more to their traditional strength than any supposed new-age expansion.

The All Blacks will win but they’ll know they’ve been in a match and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has demanded his players ensure their focus is only on Argentina. He said that to even start thinking of playing the Springboks in Johannesburg a week later would be inviting an uncomfortable night in Argentina.

Bok coach Meyer will be instilling a similar discipline with his players this week. The Boks can’t be preparing for the Wallabies and be thinking of the Rugby Championship finale a week later against the All Blacks at Ellis Park.

The Boks must respect the Wallabies as Test opponents and accept that Brisbane will always be a wonderful memory but that this Saturday it’s a different match in a different environment and with a completely different feel to it.

The Boks were not favourites in Brisbane. Here they are and history tells us the Boks can be vulnerable when there is an expectation for them to win well.

The side, for all its growth and evolution in the last 12 months, still lacks consistency and it’s this consistency that Meyer will want to see in the next fortnight.

The Boks, at home, must show themselves capable of putting together back-to-back performances high in quality and rich in reward.

The Boks physically are superior to the Wallabies and they are also more talented. The current South African squad also possesses more rugby intelligence and confidence in their approach.

The Wallabies will play a game based more on field position and expect to see more percentage rugby from the visitors, but they still don’t have the players to threaten a Bok team well prepared and disciplined in their approach.

Meyer, this week, will be more wary of his own players’ mental preparation than he will be of the quality of the opposition.

He will demand his players deliver on their talent and the public’s rightful expectation because the very best teams do.