"This All Blacks Team Is The Best Ever" - Springboks Coach

Publish Date
Thursday, 22 October 2015, 11:17AM

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has described the current All Blacks as probably the best team ever to play the game, saying his men must be ready to play the match of their lives in the World Cup semifinal at Twickenham on Sunday morning.

After naming an unchanged starting line-up to take on the All Blacks - the only change from the team which beat Wales 23-19 being the inclusion of veteran lock Victor Matfield on the reserves bench - Meyer said the All Blacks' ability to keep improving was unprecedented.

He said previous All Blacks teams had been susceptible to the high ball and perhaps weren't as good at kicking tactically, but that had been improved and the current team had no weakness.

Speaking today at his team's base in Guildford, south west of London, Meyer said the All Blacks were now among the best tactical kicking teams in the world and their ability to score from turnovers was on a different level to any other nation.

"This is not just talk - I really believe they are the best side to ever play the game," Meyer said. "If you look at their record over the last four years after the World Cup - usually after the World Cup there is a decline in performance.

"Steve [Hansen] has been there for eight years as an assistant [now head coach] and most of their coaching staff have gone on. They have just got better as they have gone on which doesn't usually happen in world rugby.

"But in saying that, you have to believe that you can beat them.

"What they do well is that because they have so many guys who played in the previous World Cup, they don't buckle under pressure. They know how to take the pressure, they always come through in the final five minutes.

"They don't have any weaknesses. I believe we have fallen backwards as a nation with our tactical kicking and they've really moved on. [Assistant coach] Mick Byrne has done a good job there."

The Springboks have named an experienced team, with their midfield of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende, with nine and 11 test caps respectively, among their most inexperienced players. First-five Handre Pollard has played 18 tests.

However, wing Bryan Habana has played 115 tests, with flanker Schalk Burger, the vice captain, having played 84. Bismarck du Plessis and fellow front rower Tendai Mtawarira have played more than 70 tests each.

"Saturday's test is probably the biggest test ever because we are playing the All Blacks at their best," Meyer said. "I'm happy with where are at the moment ... I never thought a lot of these youngsters would play a few years back but I believe we are hitting form."

After seeing the All Blacks destroy France 62-13 in their quarter-final, the Boks are likely to want to keep things tight at Twickenham, but Meyer insisted his team had the ability to play an open game too.

"People will believe that [there is a clash in styles] but we play more or less the same. Their skill level and the way they play has been unbelievable [but] every time we've played them we've also scored a lot of tries. It's never been a dull affair."

The All Blacks will name their team late tonight.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian De Allende, Bryan Habana, Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (captain); Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Jannie du Plessis, Victor Matfield, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Source - NZ Herald.