This was how the vintage All Blacks of the late Eighties used to train, with not a pass going astray nor a ball dropped. But if good rehearsals meant good games England would have gone closer in the semi-final.
These All Blacks are in better shape than the predecessors who won the inaugural World Cup under the coaching of the eminent former captain, Brian Lochore, who as the curiously styled "campaign" manager of this squad can draw a direct comparison. "Although it's very demanding physically, they have coped better than they did in 1987," he said yesterday.
Both the final teams will be named today, with South Africa concerned about about a rib injury to Mark Andrews and also whether to move him back from No8 to lock and New Zealand hoping Zinzan Brooke's creaking body can stand up to one more round of punishment.
The Springboks, uncomfortable with their own disciplinary record, are trying to turn the focus on to New Zealand, specifically Robin Brooke for punching the England hooker, Brian Moore, last Sunday. Brooke was reprimanded by Stephen Hilditch, leaving no leeway for him to be cited under tournament procedures.
However, Kitch Christie, South Africa's coach, disingenuously pointed the finger when he said: "As far as I am concerned, the World Cup rules are clear that the punishment is a 30-days suspension for punching."
The implication is that Christie should feel aggrieved after the suspension of two of his Springboks, James Dalton and Pieter Hendriks, whereas in fact he would do better to keep his counsel since the effect of the ban on Hendriks was to enable him to recall Chester Williams.Reuse content