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All Blacks and Boks talk up old rivalry

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/09/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

The All Blacks and Springboks coaches are swimming headlong against the tide of public opinion, forecasting a Test in Christchurch that is fierce and closely-fought.

The views of Steve Hansen and Allister Coetzee are at odds with bookmakers, who are tipping a win by more than 20 points to the in-form home side.

Former Springboks coaches Nick Mallett and Jake White have joined criticism of the beleaguered tourists, bemoaning the lack of quality evident so far under Coetzee.

They say a repeat of the listless South African showings in the Rugby Championship so far could result in an embarrassing defeat against the rampant double world champions.

Coetzee hit back, emphasising confidence remains high in his team, who are poised to put losses to the Pumas and Wallabies behind them.

He believes another chapter will be written in the famed Springboks-All Blacks relationship.

"It's a big battle the world stops and looks at," he said.

Hansen recalled one of the most notorious Test rugby incidents as he played up the historical nature of the rivalry.

It came in the second Test of New Zealand's 1970 tour, in Cape Town when a late elbow from All Blacks fullback Fergie McCormick knocked out Syd Nomis and accounted for two of the Springboks winger's teeth.

The home side responded with over-physicality of their own against McCormick in the subsequent Test.

"The reason it sticks out is because, whilst it's not what would happen in today's game, it's the ferociousness of how both teams attack each other and play and then afterwards it's shake hands," he said.

While New Zealand have won seven of their last eight Tests against South Africa, the last four games have been decided by seven points or less.

Hansen is happy with his team's unbeaten progress this year but well aware of how plans can go awry against committed opposition.

"If we were sitting in their situation, I just know how desperate we would be," Hansen said.

"They're expected to win and win well every time they play.

"When they don't, people from the past jump out and be rent-a-quotes and have plenty to say. You then become a team that gets tighter and tighter and more desperate."

Coetzee laughed off a throwaway remark from Hansen that the Springboks players would be instructed to "rip the heads off" the All Blacks.

However, he says motivation isn't in short supply, with his players feeling the heat from home and frustrated at not yet playing their best rugby.

"You guys know how it felt when you weren't winning World Cups," Coetzee said.

"There's a massive expectation back home and hopefully when we get it right, it will be good."

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