Smith brace for ‘epic’ showdown against All Blacks

You are currently viewing Smith brace for ‘epic’ showdown against All Blacks
  • Post published:July 13, 2023

South Africa loose forward Kwagga Smith says he is expecting an “epic” battle against New Zealand in their next Castle Lager Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Both teams enter Saturday’s game at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on the heels of impressive victories in the opening round.

Last Saturday, the Springboks defeated Australia 43-12 in Pretoria, while the All Blacks defeated Argentina 41-12 in Mendoza.

The winner in Auckland will have one hand on the trophy and send a message to the rest of the World Cup pitch.

The Rugby Championship has been shortened to three rounds due to the World Cup, which begins in September and will be defended by South Africa.

“I think it’s going to be an epic match, both teams had a good performance last weekend,” Smith told reporters.

“It’s going to be a tough game.”

The flanker anticipates a close match determined by “discipline and who makes the most of their opportunities.”

The Springboks have not lost in New Zealand since a 2017 57-0 defeat in Auckland.

In 2018, they defeated the All Blacks 36-34, and in 2019, they tied 16-16. Both of these events took place in Wellington.

In the Springboks camp, there is an abundance of respect for the hosts.

“They are a good team, I wouldn’t say they have a lot of weaknesses, if any,” added Smith, who will start at blind-side flanker for Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, currently sidelined by injury.

“I think playing against the All Blacks is the ultimate test at the moment.

“The history and rivalry behind it is really big. That makes it such an iconic game.”

As Eden Park is preparing to host the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the game will be played at the New Zealand Warriors’ rugby league stadium.

“It’s a new place to play,” Smith said of Mount Smart.

“But the class of rugby will still be the same. No matter where it’s played, it’s going to be a high-tempo game.”

Smith is one of nine players in the starting South African team against New Zealand who were flown to Auckland a week early in preparation.

Centre Lukhanyo Am is among the six Springboks who also played Australia and retain their place.

“Coming from a game last week, I feel like I’m in good condition. We got here, recovered and started straight into it,” Am told reporters.

“It’s not an issue. We have done it multiple times over the seasons and New Zealand players as well.

“I think they went through similar conditions when they played away in Argentina.”

Photo by Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix