Springbok great tells All Blacks show ‘cojones’, play centenary in South Africa

South Africa have reigned as the world’s top-ranked team for almost two years, but former coach Nick Mallett wonders whether New Zealand have the ‘cojones’ to visit the Springboks for their centenary game.

The next meeting between South Africa and the All Blacks will be their 100th encounter, which was to be played in Dunedin on September 25 before recent developments.

In fact, New Zealand were due to host South Africa in back-to-back games before a spike in coronavirus cases encouraged them to withdraw from hosting the two fixtures.

The decision has thrown this year’s Rugby Championship into disarray, with no certainty over where or when any of the remaining matches will be played as things stand.

South Africa has offered itself up as a potential host, and Mallett—who was Springboks coach between 1997 and 2000—told SA Rugby magazine his old side has the resolve to end the All Blacks’ six-win streak: “So let’s get New Zealand over here, they’re the best at running the ball. We’re the best at tackling people who run the ball and turning them over.

“We’ve got a far better set-piece than them, we’ve got a better maul than them, we’ve got a better kicking game than them. It’s a clash of two different styles of play.”

Jacques Nienaber’s men ascended to the summit of the Rugby Championship standings on Saturday after sealing a second successive win over Argentina.

New Zealand—who have played one game fewer—recently retained the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th consecutive year after they defeated Australia in back-to-back meetings at Eden Park in Auckland.

The All Blacks were due to face the Wallabies in Perth on August 28, but that fixture has been shelved after New Zealand Rugby refused to travel in the current Covid-19 climate.

Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has said the union is doing its utmost to get that fixture rescheduled for September 4, hoping to also host South Africa and Argentina.

But Mallett, 64, is keen for South Africa to take over hosting and attempted to goad New Zealand into travelling: “I really hope we have the Rugby Championship in South Africa starting on the 11th of September. We need to play New Zealand and Australia.

“I can’t use the word on TV, but the All Blacks need to show the ‘strength of personality’ to come over here and play the 100th Test in South Africa. ‘Cojones’ – that’s the word in Argentina!”

Mallett led South Africa on a record run of 17 consecutive Test victories during his time as coach, guiding the team to its maiden Tri Nations title in 1998.

He ultimately resigned in 2000 after falling out with some of South Africa Rugby’s hierarchy, going on to coach Stade Francais and Italy.

Australia was set to host two rounds of the Rugby Championship back-to-back starting on September 11, with the Springboks then due for two fixtures in New Zealand.

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has also vouched for his country as a potential host and said they “would love to” welcome rivals to their borders if that could be arranged.

Europe has been mentioned as an alternative host for the competition, though it seems the Rugby Championship could carry on in the southern hemisphere provided teams are given quarantine exemptions.

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