It will be forever known to most New Zealanders as the
test in which Richie McCaw was attacked by Springboks prop Dean
Greyling, but for South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer it is simply
a match his side should have won.
The All Blacks battled to a 21-11 victory under the roof in
Dunedin last year, the Springboks surprising Steve Hansen’s
men with their intensity and determination despite a lack of
form leading into the test.
Meyer said yesterday he believes the All Blacks had
underestimated the Boks. His men had gone into the test with
question marks over the effectiveness of first-five Morne
Steyn and an ordinary run of form.
The Boks prepared for the match in Auckland before travelling
to Dunedin late in the week – all the while professing their
belief they could win in New Zealand for the first time since
2009 to a sceptical local media contingent.
In their previous four matches last year they had drawn 14-14
with England in Port Elizabeth, beaten Argentina comfortably
27-6 in Cape Town, drawn with the Pumas 16-16 in Mendoza and
lost to Australia 26-19 in Perth.
However, their defiance soon shone through in the deep south.
Bryan Habana scored a superb individual try but their three
goalkickers Morne Steyn, Frans Steyn and Johan Goosen kicked
only two of nine attempts. Substitute Greyling’s moment of
madness when he launched himself at McCaw in a ruck and
connected with his elbow, for which he was sinbinned, also
In the end it was replacement halfback Aaron smith who was
the hero for the All Blacks. Dropped to the reserves bench in
favour of Piri Weepu due to a breach of protocol the
following weekend in Wellington, Smith sped through the Boks
defence for the second half try which broke the 8-8 deadlock.
“Last year I really thought we could have won that game
because the All Blacks probably underestimated us in a
sense,” Meyer said. “We drew against England, played really
badly away, drew in Mendoza, lost against Australia … on
that day if our kicking was better maybe we would have had a
“This is going to be tough because they know we’re in form at
the moment, they know we can win away from home, we’ve proven
it, so they will be very well prepared. One thing I know
about the All Blacks is that they always lift for a
challenge, so we need to be much better than in previous
weeks, we need to be really clinical and focused and bring a
lot of energy.”
Meyer called McCaw’s absence for this test due to a knee
injury a “big blow” for the All Blacks, but added: “One of
the things I know about New Zealand rugby is that they have
probably the best open-sides going around. He [Sam Cane] is a
“They’ve won a lot of games without Richie as well so they
won’t change their game plan. We know what to expect. We
think the breakdown will be a war as it usually is,
especially away from home and especially in New Zealand.”
Meyer called the test for the lead of the rugby Championship
the “ultimate challenge, and tougher than we’ve ever had
“We’re totally underdogs but we like that tag. We’re in a
win-win situation and we can’t wait to get going.”