All Blacks admit they're still hurting after defeat to the Boks in Wellington
The All Blacks are not trying to mask the hurt they felt following their shock Rugby Championship defeat to South Africa last month.
In fact‚ if inside centre Ryan Crotty is to be believed‚ they’ve embraced it and will use it as part of their preparation for Saturday’s return clash at Loftus Versfeld.
The Springboks delivered a stinging rebuke to the All Blacks’ status as the best team on the planet in Wellington and the world champions’ fall came with considerable pain.
If anything‚ however‚ it has emboldened the tourists in their work ethic leading up to Saturday’s clash.
“It is different for everyone‚” said Crotty about managing the hurt.
“You’ve just got to use it in how you prepare‚ and how genuine your week is in your preparation.
“You don’t leave any stone unturned.
"That is how you get the performance on Saturday.
"You can’t just pull up the herd and go ripping on Saturday.
"It is about everything you do Sunday to Saturday.
"That’s how you use it as extra preparation.
"You have to use it to your advantage rather than it hinders you.”
Part of that meticulous preparation will involve how they plan to outmanoeuvre the Springboks’ overt defence.
“They have definitely changed their defensive system‚” said Crotty.
“They have more line speed and they are numbering off a little differently than they did in the past. We took some learnings of that into the Argentina game.
"It’s about taking those learnings forward into this Test match.
“Also taking a look at what they’ve done against Australia. I don’t want to go into too much detail but what they did around their defence. It’s about putting them under pressure‚”
The influence of nuggetty Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has not gone unnoticed.
The Springboks trigger much of their attacking intent off the scrumhalf but that doesn’t make him or them predictable.
“They are very effective at using him in attack.
"He buzzes around in their defensive system‚" said Crotty.
"He’s one of those players that you prepare for.
"Our boys around the ruck will have to look at him because he likes to create space for his forward runners.
"If he was effective in Wellington we have to make sure he is not on Saturday.”
The win in Wellington has immeasurably lifted spirits this side of the Indian Ocean after the Boks’ barren run against the All Blacks.
Crotty contends though‚ the contests were never in danger of losing their spark.
“The gloss has never not been there for us‚” he said about the rivalry.
“You’ve got the best Test match sides in the world.
"Maybe that’s something the media here put on them (the Boks)‚ Nah‚ we always respect them.
"They are an outstanding side with class players right across the field. And it is always a massive challenge when we come up against them.”