'New' Boks all set to face the mighty All Blacks

13 September 2017 - 07:26 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU
Coach Johann van Graan, pictured with Eben Etzebeth of the Springboks.
Coach Johann van Graan, pictured with Eben Etzebeth of the Springboks.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

That the Springboks have not won in New Zealand since 2009 is the least of Johann van Graan's worries.

The Boks' assistant coach has experienced the heartbreak of seeing South Africa's best failing to topple a legendary All Blacks side so many times.

Van Graan was with the 2013 side that went toe-to-toe with the All Blacks at Eden Park before Romain Poite's contentious officiating saw the Boks down to 14 men, an advantage they did not relinquish.

The Boks were also on the wrong side of a 14-10 reverse at Wellington's Westpac Stadium when a coming-of-age performance by Handré Pollard and Cornal Hendricks's try were not enough to rescue Heyneke Meyer's side.

Van Graan is aware of the lessons the Boks have to take in for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks at North Harbour Stadium in Albany.

"We learn from every single Test match but 2017 was about a new start for us. We're not really focused on the past and ... this will be our first measure against the New Zealand side in New Zealand," he said.

Having seen off the French and Argentines in five consecutive Tests, the Boks needed the Australian draw to serve as a wake-up call. Van Graan said one of the key components of the 2017 class was their ability to absorb mistakes from previous matches and apply them immediately.

"We've got a younger squad than in previous years and we've got different dynamics within our team. We've got younger guys who get a lot of excitement and have a bit more humour.

"This is a different team in a different year. We've got a lot of diversity and we embrace every challenge and we can't wait to measure ourselves against the No1 team in the world," Van Graan said.

Meanwhile, industrious Springbok looseforward Jaco Kriel has been ruled out of Saturday's Test with a shoulder injury he picked up during last weekend's draw with Australia.