Eight All Blacks players will face the Springboks for the first time on Saturday, in what will be the 100th match between the two rivalry nations. Akira Ioane, Luke Jacobson, David Havili, Will Jordan, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber and Quinn Tupaea they will enter the game without having a first-hand experience of what it is like to face the world champions.
Weber, Jacobson and Havili made their debut before 2020, but even though they were part of the squad that played with the Springboks, they were never lucky enough to be selected for the encounters. Saturday’s clash will be the first time the two sides have met since the 2019 World Cup, as South Africa did not play in the 2020 rugby Championship.
For some like Jordan, Blackadder and Tupaea, who also have a small exposure in Super Rugby, play against South African rivals either way it will be a relatively new experience. However, that will be the standard going forward, as South African teams no longer compete in the renewed Super Rugby Pacific competition, but instead commit to the United Rugby Championship in Europe.
All Blacks Captain Ardie Savea, says that means that younger players will face a litmus test, but that this corresponds to the new normal. “Basically, they’re going to experience it when it’s game time,” Savea said after the team’s Captain Run on Friday.
“By being able to play Super Rugby against them, you have an idea of how the players play, their tendencies and it sets you up a bit, in terms of what to expect. I guess this will not be present this time so sharp. You will have to face an aggressive team with great force”.
This presents a new challenge for the All Blacks coach Ian Foster, and his assistants: “it is more about understanding the style with which we are going to face and it is one of the beauties of the international game, it is that you play against teams with very, very different styles “Foster said after unveiling the team’s lineup.
“If you look at the last 18 months, we mostly played against a couple of teams with a very similar style, so now it’s good to try a different one and clearly it will be a style that will probably take a little time to adapt, but we hope. I know very, very fast. “