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Henry expects 'massive challenge'


Graham Henry

Graham Henry

Graham Henry

Graham Henry expects his New Zealand side to face a much-changed South Africa one when the two countries meet in the Tri Nations on Saturday.

The All Blacks coach on Tuesday made two changes to the starting XV that beat Australia in their last game two weeks ago with Jimmy Cowan and Ben Franks drafted in. Cowan takes the place of Piri Weepu in the number nine jersey with the scrum-half dropping to the bench, while Franks comes in for his brother Owen, who drops out of the match 22.

New Zealand comfortably beat the world champions in their two other meetings in the competition thus far, but Henry said: "They will be hugely motivated to turn around those results and we are expecting a hugely physical encounter."

He added: "Playing the Springboks in Soweto in front of 90,000 plus fans - it doesn't get much bigger than this.

"It's going to be a marvellous occasion, a massive challenge and one which the team is really looking forward to."

Fly-half Daniel Carter is in line to become the highest All Blacks points scorer against South Africa - needing just two more points to surpass the 209-mark set by Andrew Mehrtens.

Winger Joe Rokocoko, another player on the brink of a milestone against the Springboks with his nine tries just one short of Christian Cullen, also expects a difficult encounter, but warns the New Zealanders could still lift their game.

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"Playing in Johannesburg, in Soweto as well, which is the heart of the nation, will drive them a bit more," he said.

"So we are expecting a much better performance from them. I expect there will be a lot of sore bodies by Saturday night.

"It is quite scary pushing a Springbok into a corner. The media and supporters haven't been too great on their side and a wounded Springbok is never a pleasing sight. We're only at about 70% of our capability, we know there's so much more to come before we're at the top of our game."


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