Eben Etzebeth is putting history aside as Springboks tackle nemesis New Zealand
Auckland — Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth says they are not worried about the weight of history ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the New Zealand at Albany’s North Harbour stadium.
The Springboks last beat New Zealand away in 2009 and the team are thin on survivors from the 32-29 win in Hamilton.
The Boks do have the benefit of going into the game on the back of a six-match unbeaten run but such trivial matters often count for little in SA-New Zealand matches.
The Boks aren’t belligerent‚ but they have a disconcerting bounce in their step not seen in recent trips to New Zealand.
"We’ll be looking to win tomorrow but we know it’s a big rivalry against the All Blacks. I do think the guys will be ready and we’ll be looking forward to the game‚" Etzebeth said.
"We have to be at our best to make sure we do well on Saturday. I do think we’ve prepared well‚ especially in the lineout battle where Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will be dangerous.
"Once you jog onto the field‚ whatever records you may have had disappear from your head. You’re not looking to break records. You want to win the Test match.
"I know they want to win the Test match and so do we. Records don’t count for much."
Etzebeth and experienced loosehead prop Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira are the only survivors from last year’s 57-15 hammering at the hands of the All Blacks in Durban.
That speaks to how the team has grown in 2017 and how they’ve strived to move on from the tribulations of 2016.
The portents for a heavy home defeat were apparent in their 41-13 loss in last year’s visit to Christchurch, where the All Blacks weren’t required to shift out of second gear.
That showed how poor the Boks were but the class of 2017 are well coached‚ well drilled and play to adaptable plans.
The All Blacks are aware of the danger the Boks pose but the Boks are still wary of a team they’ve defeated only twice in the past seven years. Those wins came in Port Elizabeth in 2011 and Johannesburg in 2014.
Etzebeth said they’d moved on from the diabolical Durban showing but knew the All Blacks could find form against them.
"It took us a couple of months to get over what happened in Durban. That defeat really hurt‚" he said.
"We’ve put the whole of 2016 behind us‚ including the yellow card I conceded, and we were looking forward to this year.
"This year has gone well so far‚ but the All Black Test match will be our biggest challenge of the year so far."
Meanwhile, starting scrumhalf Ross Cronje has been ruled out of the clash because of a stomach bug.
The Lions flyhalf has been crucial to the Boks this season and his partnership with Elton Jantjies has been one of the foundations on which the Boks have built their 2017 run.
Cronje will be replaced by Francois Hougaard‚ who started against Argentina on August 26 when Cronje was ruled out with an ankle injury with Rudy Paige filling in on the bench.
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie‚ 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder‚ 13 Ryan Crotty‚ 12 Sonny Bill Williams‚ 11 Rieko Ioane‚ 10 Beauden Barrett‚ 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Kieran Read (c)‚ 7 Sam Cane‚ 6 Liam Squire‚ 5 Sam Whitelock‚ 4 Brodie Retallick‚ 3 Nepo Laulala‚ 2 Dane Coles‚ 1 Kane Hames. Reserves: 16 Codie Taylor‚ 17 Wyatt Crockett‚ 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi‚ 19 Scott Barrett‚ 20 Ardie Savea‚ 21 TJ Perenara‚ 22 Lima Sopoaga‚ 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee‚ 14 Raymond Rhule‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Jan Serfontein‚ 11 Courtnall Skosan‚ 10 Elton Jantjies‚ 9 Francois Hougaard‚ 8 Uzair Cassiem‚ 7 Jean-luc du Preez‚ 6 Siya Kolisi‚ 5 Franco Mostert‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth ©‚ 3 Ruan Dreyer‚ 2 Malcolm Marx‚ 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 17 Steven Kitshoff‚ 18 Trevor Nyakane‚ 19 Lood de Jager‚ 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit 21 Rudy Paige‚ 22 Handre Pollard‚ 23 Damian de Allende.
Match official: Nigel Owens (Wales)
First Assistant: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Second Assistant: Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)