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Hansen expects speedy Springboks

Assistant coach Steve Hansen has predicted more running rugby when New Zealand face off against South Africa in the Tri-Nations on Saturday.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers made seven changes to his starting XV this week, including four in the back-line with a fifth coming in the form of a positional switch where Gio Aplon is picked at full-back instead of the wing. JP Pietersen, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh and Francois Hougaard have also been named in a move that is intended to quicken the pace of the back-line.

"Their revamped back-line indicates they're probably going to move the ball a bit more," Hansen said. "We know Hougaard is fast and all the players they've brought into their back-line are runners."

He added: "So we're expecting plenty of running, but plenty of aerial kicking too because we are still playing on the Highveld after all."

The All Blacks currently top the table with four wins in as many games - two apiece against the world champions and Australia - and need a single point to clinch the title.

Ahead of the clash at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, plenty has been made of the manner in which Graham Henry's side have been treated by referees in the competition so far.

There have been several suggestions from the Springbok camp their opponents had been given "special treatment", especially on the yellow card front, but Hansen disagreed.

He continued: "All the yellow cards that have been issued have been fair.

"The toughest one was Drew Mitchell (against Australia in Melbourne) when he threw the ball away, but that was straight after they'd been told if they did it again someone would be yellow carded.

"Unfortunately for him it was his second one."


From Belfast Telegraph