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Boks coach envious of All Blacks depth

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/09/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

New coach Allister Coetzee turns the same colour as the green Springboks jersey as he surveys the options available to the All Blacks. © REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko New coach Allister Coetzee turns the same colour as the green Springboks jersey as he surveys the options available to the All Blacks. Springboks coach Allister Coetzee says a cavernous gulf in depth and player leadership exists between his team and the All Blacks.

But it doesn't stop him talking up the prospect of an upset in Saturday's Rugby Championship Test in Christchurch.

Coetzee is already under pressure following an indifferent start since replacing Heyneke Meyer, having lost their last two Tests. They also battled to a tight June series win over Ireland.

This week Coetzee has access to just 11 of last year's 31-strong World Cup squad, which has been hit hard by injury, retirement or players on European contracts.

From last year's World Cup semifinal, when the All Blacks pipped the Springboks 20-18, 10 New Zealand starters will face the opening whistle on Saturday. That includes seven of the eight forwards.

Just five starters will do the same for South Africa, with Coetzee admitting his challenge to get a raw group up to speed is significant.

"We're in that transitions phase. In reality, we need experienced players to come through."

Coetzee was envious of New Zealand's succession planning, with players such as flanker Sam Cane and midfield backs Ryan Crotty and Malakai Fekitoa effortlessly filling the boots of some departed Test greats. They could do so because they had already notched 20-30 Tests each.

There are three classy first five-eighth options to replace departed All Blacks great while the Springboks have lost proven pair Handre Pollard and Pat Lambie to injury, leaving inconsistent playmaker Elton Jantjes as the only viable candidate.

The most stark difference between the teams was the respective new captaincy appointments this year, Coetzee said.

While the All Blacks had long labelled Kieran Read as skipper-in-waiting for when Richie McCaw retired, there was a paucity of Springbok options.

Former captains Jean de Villiers, Victor Matfield, Fourie Du Preez and Schalk Burger all departed at the same time while loose forwards Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen weren't considered for captaincy as they are Europe-based.

Coetzee settled on Adrian Strauss, even though the hooker plans to quit international rugby later this year.

"That's the depth difference the All Blacks have at this point in time," Coetzee said.

"But no excuses. We've got the players, we've trained well and hopefully we can put it together on the field this weekend."

Coetzee is looking forward to meeting All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen after the game, having admired his international success during a lengthy tenure as Stormers Super Rugby coach in Cape Town.

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