“We’re looking forward to this challenge. Obviously it’s going to be a tough one, but we’ve done a lot of hard work to make sure that we as a coaching staff – along with the players – are aligned in what we want to achieve in the World Cup," said Stick.
“The last three games we’ve played against New Zealand, we won by two in Wellington, then they won by two at Loftus and we drew again this year in Wellington. Along with the fans I am sure we are looking forward to this one.”
Pieter-Steph du Toit credited a new mindset for the eradication of the gap between New Zealand and South Africa. It is two years to the day since South Africa lost 57-0 to New Zealand in Hamilton.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the past,” said Du Toit, “but at the moment we are a lot more professional and trying to execute and better ourselves as individuals – that’s a massive focus for us; if the individual is better, then the team will be better.”
He said the team was very clear on their strategy for the Pool B clash: “We have to focus on what makes us strong, we know what we have to do,” he said.
“We have done some good research on where we can exploit their weaknesses and I am sure they will have done the same with us. At the end the day, it will be down to the team that wants it the most.”
Stick also paid tribute to a new focus and a clearer vision of a more holistic gameplan: “We are more professional in what we do in the game,” he said.
“We make sure that we lead by example as coaches and take responsibility.
“The defence coaches and attack coaches work very closely together so that we are aligned on the plan. Sometimes you get systems where it’s mostly defensive and then when the team has possession, the players don’t know what to do with the ball.
“What we have done is to make sure that we have a defensive system that complements our attack.
“So you will find the likes of our loosies, Siya and Pieter-Steph, in the wider channels. We are managing to find a balance on when to kick the ball and when to run the ball and always making sure that we apply the pressure on the opposition.”
Stick also welcomed the contribution of new coaching consultant, Felix Jones: “He understands the European sides very well and has a very good relationship with the coaches in New Zealand so he has brought certain information,” he said. “He has really contributed a lot in the short space of time he has been with us.”
Du Toit said: “I sat next to him on the train the second day he was with us and the first thing he did was get out his laptop and start working.
“He is a very hard worker and understands the game very well. He has focused more on the individual aspects with us. I think that has been quite different and something that we have enjoyed.”