All Blacks taking on biggest rivals – Smith

Date published: October 20 2015

South Africa are New Zealand's biggest rivals according to Conrad Smith ahead of the clash between the two in the World Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The All Blacks head into the Twickenham clash as favourites, but one of their three losses since the last World Cup came against the Springboks, in Johannesburg in 2014.

And while there is huge intensity whenever the two teams face each other, Smith believes there is real respect between the countries.

"They are a special opponent and it’s a very special rivalry," he explained. 

"I grew up during the apartheid era, when Australia were the traditional foes, but now South Africa have come back into it and I think it’s got back to where it was and they are our ultimate rival."

"There’s something special about playing them and playing them in a semi-final will be extra special.”

"We have a good relationship with most teams we play, but South Africa have a special respect for the game and that’s why two minutes after the game we are able to shake hands, walk off the pitch and have a chat with them.

"With South Africa there is a consistent level of physicality. You can’t catch them on an off night and in the past five years it’s always been tight when we have played.

"They are always tight match-ups with the Springboks and I’m sure this one will be the same. They’ve been impressive so far and individually they have great players.

"Although we beat them in our last outing in the Rugby Championship, we weren’t proud of the way we played. We know we are playing a very good, physical side."