The scrumming contest against the All Blacks will be a huge but fair challenge this weekend after the Wallabies’ alleged underhand moves.
After last week’s 27-27 draw against Australia in Bloemfontein‚ Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx suggested the Wallabies used skulduggery at scrum time to upset the rhythm of the set-piece. Bok forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot also hinted the Wallabies used nefarious tactics but was adamant the All Blacks would present a more honest contest.
"It takes three entities to have a good scrum — us‚ the opponents and the referee‚" Proudfoot said. "The scrums were a bit untidy [against Australia] and we could perhaps have managed it a little better.
"When the opposition presents you with a problem, you need to adapt to it quickly because errors at set phase can cost you games.
"It will be a tough challenge again this week‚ because the All Blacks tend to want to take you on physically with a very settled scrum system.
"They present you with more brutality than tricks."
Proudfoot singled out the veteran Bok loosehead Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira for his contribution to the team on and off the field. Mtawarira has been a prominent figure this season‚ with a high work rate as well as strong scrumming. Understudy Steven Kitshoff has proved a good foil from the bench.
"You can’t chuck experience away. The front row is about learning‚" Proudfoot said.
"Every scrum presents you with a different challenge and you only pick that up learning the trade at the coal face.
"Beast is such an integral part of the squad and when he stands and talks, people listen. Beast is really focused on what he wants to achieve."
Meanwhile, as part of their search for the perfect game, the All Blacks rested key players in last week’s 36-10 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Lock Sam Whitelock‚ hooker Dane Coles‚ flyhalf Lima Sopoaga‚ flank Liam Squire and centre Ryan Crotty were rested and flew to SA on Friday already‚ nearly 72 hours before the rest of the squad joined them in Cape Town from Argentina.
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster sent an ominous warning to the Springboks that there could be better to come from the world champions at Newlands.
The All Blacks have been talking as if their huge win over the Boks in Albany three weeks ago was a contest that went down to the wire.
"We felt that the Boks put us under pressure in the first 40 minutes of that game in Albany‚" Foster said.
"The Boks took the game to us, but we hung in there."
And despite their unprecedented success since winning the 2011 World Cup that has included only five defeats in 77 Tests over five years‚ the All Blacks do not define success in terms of wins and losses‚ but rather in searching for the perfect game.
"It depends how you define success and failure‚" Foster said.
"The world tends to define success by winning and losing, but the other way is to ask questions: ‘Were we that successful in the second half against Argentina? No.’
"It’s a matter of asking if we can get better. And the answer is, ‘yes’. So that’s what drives us. It is not hard and there is no complacency in what we do."
Foster said he did not think the win in Albany was a perfect performance. "That was a special game‚ but we didn’t do it the next week‚" he said. "If you go back to the game in Sydney [beating Australia 54-34] we had a pretty special first 50 minutes [the All Blacks led 48-0] and then a forgettable next 30.
"The next week in Dunedin we got out of jail. What’s happened in the past is a poor indicator of what is going to happen next," he said.
"We’ve approached things differently this year‚" head coach Steve Hansen said. "We sent those players who weren’t involved in the Argentina game to SA early."