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Assistant coach Stick says Boks not favourites against the All Blacks

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick during a media conference ahead of the Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick during a media conference ahead of the Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
Image: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images

In a calculated move to eliminate any chance of complacency, Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has dismissed suggestions that SA are favourites against New Zealand.

The Boks take on a wounded All Blacks in this highly anticipated Rugby Championship clash at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday afternoon where hooker Malcolm Marx will be playing in his 50th Test match.

This match also takes place at the venue where Bok captain Siya Kolisi made his debut in the win over Scotland in 2013 when he came on after five minutes for an injured Arno Botha.

As they wrapped up their preparations on Friday afternoon, Stick said the fact that the last few meetings between the two teams have been close shows there is no favourite.

“There is never such a thing as Springboks going to an All Blacks game as favourites,” he said.

“I have never heard that in the past, you know games between the two countries are always tough. For the past couple of years now, results have been very close between us in terms of results.”

The All Blacks go into this clash after suffering a home series loss to Ireland a few weeks ago but Stick said they have capable players to turn their fortunes around.

“So, you can’t underestimate anyone irrespective of what happened to them in the previous games. The game between the All Blacks and the Springboks has always been massive and for me it’s actually the biggest game in the rugby world and history tells you that.

“If you look at rugby World Cups, it is about six between the two countries, so that shows that they are probably two of the best teams in the world. We are not going into this game with the mindset of being favourites because the results of the match between the All Blacks and Ireland didn’t say much to us.

“For us we just want to make sure that we implement our plans and I believe that the team that is going to play and be able to execute their plan for 80 minutes or even 85 minutes will stand a chance to win the game.”

Kolisi added that they are looking forward to the match.

“As children we dreamed of games like these and we filled up the living room watching them. All the guys in this squad would have loved to be in the match day squad, so the 23 that were selected need to go out there and do our best.

“The All Blacks are a team that just don’t stop, so it will require an 80-minute performance to defeat them. They have players in the starting line-up and on the bench who are game breakers, and we need to ensure we execute our plan no matter what the score is.”

Kolisi and Stick anticipate an epic encounter against arch-rivals New Zealand.

The history between the Springboks and All Blacks has been rich, dating back over 100 Test matches, and while Kolisi and Stick made it clear there was no difference in their preparation for this match than any other international, they agreed that the rivalry between these sides was special.

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