Rugby Championship: All Blacks ‘won’t disappoint’ in Johannesburg says Springbok centre Damian de Allende

Colin Newboult

South Africa centre Damian de Allende expects a fierce challenge from the All Blacks this weekend, despite the visitors’ recent struggles.

New Zealand are at an all-time low in the world rankings having succumbed in five of their past six matches, including three defeats in a row.

They went down to a home series loss to Ireland before opening the Rugby Championship with another poor performance in Nelspruit.

That 26-10 reversal at the hands of the Springboks has put even more pressure on head coach Ian Foster, but De Allende is expecting a response.

Highly skilled players

“It’s going to be quite dry and that is why I think the All Blacks won’t disappoint us on Saturday,” he told reporters.

“Towards the end of the game at Mbombela it got quite greasy and I think it got quite tough for them and they had to chase the game.

“They are a world class outfit with highly skilled players who can break games wide open.

“We know how they can pass the ball around and what can happen if those passes stick, so we have to play for 80 minutes this weekend.

“We are looking forward to the challenge.”

De Allende believes that the visitors will make slight changes to their game plan, but the South Africa centre isn’t expecting sweeping alterations.

“I think they might change a few things around. But to change a lot in a few days will be quite tough,” he said.

“No matter what team they put out they will be strong and I think they still have a lot to offer.”

Set-piece strength

Prop Steven Kitshoff echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, insisting that the All Blacks will challenge them, especially in the set-piece.

“The All Blacks are a strong outfit in the line-outs and scrums, and they always come out ready for the challenge, so they will be tough opponents on Saturday,” Kitshoff said.

“Last week we didn’t get the dominance we wanted in the second half, but we have been working hard this week and hopefully we can get it right this weekend.”

Kitshoff starts on the bench behind Ox Nche, who packs down alongside Frans Malherbe and inexperienced hooker Joseph Dweba – a player making just his third Test appearance due to a knee injury to Bongi Mbonambi.

It is a big responsibility for Dweba but the loosehead believes that the 26-year-old can handle the occasion.

“He (Dweba) has been involved in the set-up for a while, and he’s been working hard at training,” the prop said.

“That said, it is sad for Bongi, but hopefully he’ll be back on the field soon.”

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