The Springboks take on the All Blacks in Hamilton in what could turn out to be the Tri-nations decider for 2009.
The Springboks are looking to bounce back after a flat performance against Australia in Brisbane last week. Conversely the All Blacks are well rested and fresh after a three week break.
The Springboks have based themselves on the Gold Coast of Australia this week, copping plenty of flack from the New Zealand media for their late arrival into New Zealand.Even New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had this to say "I think it's misguided actually and I think when they come here on Saturday, they'll come to realise that they like the place even less when they've been thumped by the All Blacks."
I've been following the Springboks at their Gold Coast base this week, and once again their focus and mindset has impressed. They're not worried what the New Zealand media have to say, preferring to focus only on preparing they way they want to for the crucial encounter in Hamilton.
The New Zealanders meanwhile should focus on their own game. They can hardly talk, earlier this year they based themselves in Pretoria and only travelled down to Bloemfontein on the Thursday for their test match against the Springboks.
In any case the Kiwis should worry about themselves, the Springboks can do whatever they like, and their only concern is making sure they turn up come kick off on Saturday night.
The Springboks have had a light training week, and although disrupted by injuries/niggles to Bryan Habana, Jacque Fourie, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, and Fourie du Preez, they are looking to return to the physicality that brought them success in their first three Tri-nations games.
Whilst the All Blacks have one of the World's premier flyhalves in Dan Carter, if the All Blacks can't match the Springboks physicality, even he won't be able to get the All Blacks on the front foot.
The Wallabies showed the All Blacks last week how to beat the Springboks, but whether the All Blacks can emulate their Trans-Tasman neighbours remains to be seen. I'm expecting the Springboks to play a tighter, more disciplined game.
As Bakkies Botha said this week, the Springboks lacked intensity in Brisbane against the Wallabies. Expect that to be rectified for this week's clash with the All Blacks.
The Springboks need to slow the game down, and use their domination of the set pieces to control the game. The lineout led by Victor Matfield should once again reign supreme, and if they dominate early it will cause the All Blacks to be spooked once again. The scrums are the grey area. Will the Springbok scrum struggle once more?
Whilst it hasn't dominated the All Blacks, it hasn't struggled either. The Springboks only appear to have problems facing the Wallabies, where John Smit has mentioned this week that the lower height the Wallaby front row packs down with is more difficult to counter.
Against the All Blacks he says it is simply a matter of using more brute force! The Springbok captain maintains that the Springbok scrum is not struggling, but simply needs some consistent refereeing policing it.
The All Blacks need nine log points from their last two games, and need to deny the Springboks a bonus point. With wet conditions forecast, I'm not expecting the All Blacks to make the four tries a priority. I think they'll focus on denying the Springboks a bonus point for coming within seven points, and be happy with a win.
If the Springboks can edge out in front early, as they so often do, the All Blacks will be under immense pressure, which could just open up massive opportunities to score from.
I'm predicting an immense physical battle. The Springboks are no longer afraid of this All Blacks side, and have the blueprint to beat the All Blacks, even on their home turf. There may not be too many tries scored, but I'm expecting the Springboks to get home by 9, and wrap up the Tri-nations for 2009!
Last three Springbok-All Black results in New Zealand:
2008 Dunedin: NZ 28 SA 30
2008 Wellington: NZ 19 SA 8
2007 Christchurch: NZ 33 SA 6