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Habana wary of “hurting” All Blacks ahead of Championship opener


Former Springboks international Bryan Habana says the South African side will be weary of the “hurting” All Blacks in their opening Rugby Championship Test match this weekend.

The ex-winger, who accrued more than 120 caps for the Bokke believes the pressure is on his former side to perform considering the underdog status of their opponents.

The All Blacks, who haven’t toured South Africa since 2018, have ample motivation to perform following the fallout of their series loss to Ireland and will hope to add to their away win streak against the Bokke, which stretches back to 2014.

Habana, who has experienced both results against the touring side, says the Springboks will be very wary of the All Blacks’ need to “bounce back” and will not take their “favourites” status lightly.

“It’s not often that you go into a Test match week against the ABs as the favourites,” Habana said on SENZ Breakfast.

“Obviously everyone has seen what happened against the Irish and I think there would be a lot of hesitation from Jacques Nienaber and the boys to sort of pin themselves as favourites.

“I think a hurting All Black is definitely something they won’t take lightly and I think what’s happened and given the potential amount of turmoil … the one thing you can always know from the All Blacks is they know how to bounce back.

“I think there will be a lot of respect when the Springboks face the All Blacks’ haka this weekend, there will be no underestimation of what this All Blacks side can do because I think a lot of previous Springboks teams have witnessed that.

“Given the fact that the Springboks haven’t beaten the All Blacks in South Africa since 2014, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the boys to perform.”

The All Blacks named their 23-man squad late on Thursday evening, with several changes to the forward pack and backline set to boost their status across the field.

Powerful winger Caleb Clarke has joined the starting 15 after missing the majority of the year with injury, while Samisoni Taukei’aho and Angus Ta’avao will return to the front row to counter the dominant Springboks pack.

All Blacks side to face Springboks:

  1. George Bower
  2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  3. Angua Ta’avao
  4. Sam Whitelock
  5. Scott Barrett
  6. Akira Ioane
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Ardie Savea
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. David Havili
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Will Jordan
  15. Jordie Barrett
  16. Dane Coles
  17. Ethan de Groot
  18. Tyrel Lomax
  19. Tupou Vaa’i
  20. Shannon Frizell
  21. Finlay Christie
  22. Richie Mo’unga
  23. Quinn Tupaea
All Blacks Springboks

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