South Africa were quick to claim the underdog tag ahead of their meeting with the All Blacks, despite the hosts being minus Richie McCaw.
South Africa were quick to claim the underdog tag ahead of their clash with New Zealand in Auckland, despite the hosts being without Richie McCaw.
Saturday's game between the two unbeaten sides in the Rugby Championship comes with the Boks on a high after an historic victory over Australia.
The All Blacks, meanwhile, lacked cohesion when beating Argentina 28-13 in Hamilton and suffered the loss of McCaw for a month with an injury.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer described the battle for supremacy as the “ultimate challenge, and tougher than we've ever had before”.
Even though McCaw's absence was a “big blow” for New Zealand, South Africa remained “underdogs, but we like that tag,” he said.
“I've got a lot of respect for Richie, he's probably one of the best players that's ever played the game.
“They've still got great leaders, Kieran Read and a lot of other guys as well. But there's only one Richie McCaw and it definitely will be a big blow for them.”
Meyer also talked up McCaw's understudy, the 21-year-old Chiefs forward Sam Cane, saying New Zealand probably have the best openside flankers in world rugby.
“Every single New Zealand openside in Super Rugby is a quality player. They've won a lot of games without Richie as well and they won't change their game plan,” he said.
“We know what to expect, and we think the breakdown is going to be a war like it always is, especially in New Zealand.”