Coetzee: ‘Kiwis are number one’

The mutual respect the rugby teams South Africa and New Zealand have for each other was reflected in the compliments they paid each other this week, as the pre-World Cup international season starts to warm up.

All Black coach Graham Henry this week said the Boks are the Kiwis’ “toughest” opponents on the international stage, a compliment that was returned by Bok assistant coach Allister Coetzee – who labelled the Kiwis the number one team in the world ahead of the World Cup.

“They are very hard to play against. They are the most difficult side to construct our attack against,” Henry was quoted as saying this week.

“They have the same traditions in rugby as the All Blacks and they don’t fear the All Blacks as some other teams do. We wish they did, but they don’t.”

Coetzee said the Kiwis are “definitely the favourites” for the World Cup.

Speaking to the media ahead of South Africa’s second test against England, in Pretoria on Saturday, Coetzee said the Northern Hemisphere teams appear to have fallen behind a touch and “have a lot to prove”.

He added that the Springboks want to avoid the same pitfalls that tripped up the Proteas [South Africa’s national team] at the cricket World Cup earlier this year.

Shortly before the start of the global showpiece Graeme Smith’s cricketers overtook Australia as the top ranked team in the world, but they bumbled their way through the World Cup and were then unceremoniously dumped out in the semi-finals by the very same Aussies.

The Springbok rugby team is currently ranked fourth in the world – they moved past Ireland into fourth this week after the 58-210 victory over England last week – behind New Zealand (number one), France (two) and Australia (three).

“We don’t want to wear that [favourites] tag this year at the World Cup, unlike our cricket side, who went in to the World Cup as the top ranked side,” Coetzee told a media gathering.

“We just want to go about doing our business on a daily basis – just get the next win under the belt and then the next and build momentum that way,” he added.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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