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Springboks not far off clicking: Retallick

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/09/2016 Daniel Gilhooly
Retallick also isn't reading too much into the Highlanders' five-match winning streak against the Chiefs. © Getty Images Retallick also isn't reading too much into the Highlanders' five-match winning streak against the Chiefs.

South Africa's trundling Rugby Championship campaign could burst to life at any moment.

That's what the All Blacks are saying, hopeful it won't happen in Saturday's Test in Christchurch.

Usually regarded as a clash of rugby's heavyweights, it's being widely forecast as a comfortable win for the world champions.

New Zealand have powered clear at the midway point of the four-nation tournament, notching bonus points in all three wins and scoring 18 tries in the process. Their three rivals have managed 15 tries between them.

The Springboks have lost twice in succession on the road, heaping further pressure on coach Allister Coetzee and his rebuilding side.

They scraped past Ireland 2-1 in June and pipped the Pumas in Nelspruit before their limitations were exposed in Salta and Brisbane.

Beyond a decent set piece, they lacked any coherent attacking plan in the 23-17 loss to Australia last week.

However, All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick believes writing off the Springboks, who have dropped to fourth in the world rankings, is fraught with danger.

Given time, he believes the Springboks can soon be playing with the fluency of the Lions, who employed a pacy all-round game to reach the Super Rugby final, eliminating the Highlanders and Crusaders in the play-offs.

With several key Lions promoted to the Springboks, it was a matter of them adapting their style to Test rugby, Retallick said.

"They've had a couple of losses, I still think time together under a new coaching group and new combinations will make them improve," he said.

"They're playing with a lot of intention, the Springboks, they're moving the ball and we've seen if you give them space, they can be very dangerous."

The clash between Retallick and in-form Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth should be a highlight in Christchurch.

A more important showdown for the visitors is at first five-eighth, where Elton Jantjes has failed to match his deeds for the Lions while opposite Beauden Barrett has lifted to another gear from from his Hurricanes heroics.

Barrett shone in the closing stages of last week's 57-22 win over the Pumas but assistant coach Ian Foster says it has been overlooked that the playmaker had a modest impact when the rest of the All Blacks team struggled during the first half at Hamilton.

He hopes that poor start wasn't forgotten by his players.

"We're winning and everyone's patting us on the back but it takes hard work. And it takes weekly hard work.

"The minute you slacken off, for a couple of days it goes."

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