The All Blacks ruffled local feathers yesterday after taking extra precautions to keep South African spies away from training at exclusive private school Bishops College.
Toby Robson writes for Fairfax Media that the All Blacks security men even waived away the prying eyes of the schools students as preparations for Saturday’s crucial Tri-Nations test cranked up a gear in Cape Town.
With most of the school’s students keen to get a close up glimpse of the All Blacks star players, Dan “the man” Carter and skipper Richie McCaw top of the list, the visitor’s policy was unpopular.
While most were content to watch from afar, one student fetched his dean in protest.
But the All Blacks privacy may have been justified with full details of the students’ lock out taking only hours to trickle across town to Springbok training where it was a hot topic among local media.
In truth any “spies” at Bishops College would have learned little other than coach Graham Henry seems likely to retain the same starting side that beat Australia in Auckland.
That’s hardly surprising considering the All Blacks’ 39-10 win at Eden Park was their best performance of the season.
However, it is significant that it will mark the first time the All Blacks have named the same side for two tests in a row this year.
There may be changes though on the bench with Isaia Toeava possibly coming in to cover fullback alongside Piri Weepu and Stephen Donald in the backs.
In the forwards it will be interesting to see whether Henry opts for Adam Thomson or hands Sione Lauaki a chance to redeem himself after his Sydney horrors.
While locals were keen to beat up the All Blacks cloak and dagger training, prop Greg Somerville was playing down accusations of cheating from South African coach Peter de Villiers.
“It’s just one of those things, pre match tactics of putting something out there to stir it up. It’s nothing different to what any other team does,” the 62-test veteran said. “Everyone’s looking for that edge and whatever we are doing they will be doing something as well I would say.”
De Villiers accused the All Blacks of closing the gap and coming through the lineouts and has also questioned their scrimmaging tactics.
“I haven’t heard exactly what he’s said, but every week there’s been allegations that somebody’s cheating and it goes both ways… it’s become familiar territory to us really,” Somerville said.
Interestingly, while de Villiers has spent the early part of the week talking about the set piece it was clearly not the focal point of Springbok training yesterday.
Had the All Blacks been at Tygerberg Rugby Club’s Florida Park they would have seen a lengthy and deliberate focus on kicking and counterattack.
And while the All Blacks side is settled de Villiers has been forced to make changes.
Lock Danie Rossouw and utility back Frans Steyn joined the squad yesterday in place of Bakkies Botha (knee) and centre Jaque Fourie (broken cheekbone), who are both out for the remainder of the season.
Prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira looks set to come into the front row, while Andries Bekker is likely to take Botha’s place at lock.Tweet