As the spectre of the All Blacks’ Loftus Versfeld record looms large over the Springboks, Handré Pollard is bracing himself for a backlash when the sides meet on Saturday.
The game is seen widely as the All Blacks’ chance for redemption after a rare home defeat while the Springboks are priming themselves to do something that has eluded them since the game became professional in 1996: beat New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld.
Pollard said the All Blacks would be champing at the bit after slipping up in Wellington last month. Meanwhile, the Boks have more than that point to prove: they have not beaten the All Blacks in four attempts in Tshwane since 1996.
"The All Blacks have a history of firing back at a 120% when they’ve lost a Test match when they play the same team. We know they’re going to be more accurate and physical but we’re at home and we need to match that or go one step further," the flyhalf said.
"People will have expectations because it was a big win, but we’re just focusing on the process. We know what we’re capable of, which is good, but we need to be consistent and perform at a high level week in and week out."
Experienced All Black centre Ryan Crotty knows all about winning in Tshwane at Super Rugby level.
He was part of a Crusaders side that crushed the Bulls in 2017 while two trips with his Super Rugby unit to Johannesburg in the past two years also resulted in wins.
However, the scar of the Wellington loss, the first home defeat in nine years against the Springboks, still runs deep. Crotty said they would find a way to channel their hurt into something positive on Saturday.
"The hurt is different for everyone but you have to use it in how you prepare. No stones can be left unturned and that’s how you get the performance where you pull up the hurt and go out there and play on Saturday," Crotty said.
"The early part of the week is about the intelligence and how you want to play while a bit of the hurt is bottled and mixed with a bit of physicality. It’s a mixture of both that needs to be used to one’s advantage."
Barring the Wellington defeat, the All Blacks have had the wood on the Boks recently, as they say Down Under, and have not been shy to take them to the cleaners. Before Wellington, the Boks had beaten the All Blacks only twice in seven years. But Crotty said they never lost respect for the "Africans".
"We’re motivated for any test. SA got one over us and we’re extremely motivated to put it right. We’re an extremely competitive group and we’re always motivated to come here and maybe that provides a wee bit more," Crotty said.