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Springboks realise the big challenge that lies ahead against the All Blacks, says Bongi Mbonambi

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The Springboks are going to be in for another brutal challenge according to hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

South Africa's Bongi Mbonambi (C) passes to Kurt-Lee Arendse (R) while Australia's Suliasi Vunivalu (L) Australia during the Rugby Championships match.
Bongi Mbonambi (centre) says the Springboks are up for another battle against the All Blacks. Picture: EPA, Kim Ludbrook

Cape Town – The winner of the Test between the Springboks and All Blacks on Saturday will be in the driving seat to win the truncated Rugby Championship and get the first shot in ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France.

And after an excellent start to the Southern Hemisphere tournament against Australia, the Boks expect a very different match when they face New Zealand at the Mount Smart Stadium (kickoff 9:05am) in Auckland.

Bongi Mbonambi, who started at hooker in the 43-12 Pretoria win, says they expect another tough battle, especially against the Kiwi forwards, but they have prepared well for it.

The Bok hooker, who will start again on Saturday, replaced Eben Etzebeth, Bok stand-in skipper, at the captain’s press conference on Friday. Etzebeth’s father passed away earlier this week, and out of respect for the emotional and grieving lock, he was not tasked with media duties.

“Australia was a good start for us, but we quickly put that (performance) behind us because we knew that another big challenge was ahead of us in the All Blacks,” Mbonambi said.

“So we’ve put all our energy and focus into our preparation this week, and we are just looking forward to executing tomorrow (Saturday). It’s about us coming together and being all aligned. It’s been a while since we played in Auckland against New Zealand.”

According to Mbonambi, they’ve had a good captain’s practice session at the stadium, and it doesn’t matter what the conditions are like, they are ready to deliver a performance.

No rain is predicted for Saturday, but the Springboks trained in various conditions ahead of the Test should anything change before kickoff.

“For us as a pack, it’s always a massive challenge playing against a fully loaded New Zealand pack. We know that they are a very good scrummaging team, and their forwards coach did a lot of work with them.

“We saw their performance against Argentina last week. We know the challenges ahead of us, but from our side, we have done all the prep that we need to do.

“It’s all about making things work tomorrow (Saturday).”

Probed where the All Blacks rank in terms of physicality against the rest of the world and if they are the toughest Test to play, Mbonambi answered coolly that all the international teams are quite physical.

He said he can’t pick any team above another as being more physical.

“Rugby is a physical game, it’s a contact sport,” he added.

“The All Blacks always have a massive pack, a very good line-out system, and quality ball carriers. It’s going to be tough.

“Every Test match is a statement game, and I think both sides will want to make a statement ahead of the World Cup. Any team will want to.”

@LeightonK

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