Justin Marshall expects a wounded New Zealand team to ambush South Africa in Hamilton tomorrow and set up a potentially thrilling climax to the Tri Nations. The Springboks are nine points clear at the top of the table and a draw would be enough to see them add the title to a trophy cabinet that includes the World Cup and the crown for beating the British & Irish Lions.
But Marshall, a five-time winner of the tournament, knows the All Blacks will not give up their title lightly and will be determined to not only end a run of two straight defeats at the hands of the Boks but also set up the chance to claim the trophy against Australia next week. The Wallabies opened up the door for the All Blacks by inflicting a shock defeat on the world champions in Brisbane last week.
"I wasn't surprised at all," said Marshall. "I always found Australia difficult to beat in Brisbane, just like the Boks are at Ellis Park and England at Twickenham. The Boks were probably complacent but I think they will lose in New Zealand as well. "It's been a long time since New Zealand have lost three games in a row to South Africa and I feel they will walk into a minefield. "The New Zealand public are hungry and expecting a result and the players are extremely disappointed they have let their standards slip. They will be sitting and waiting for them."
Injuries to Conrad Smith and Luke McAlister have forced Graham Henry into fielding a new-look midfield pairing for the match at Waikato Stadium. Ma'a Nonu will provide a battering ram at outside centre while Henry has opted to play a second fly-half at No 12. Donald deputised for Dan Carter during his absence with an Achilles injury but Henry has now found room for them in the same side. "I would call it a risk but maybe there is a really good ploy behind it," said Marshall.
"Donald has not played a lot at No 12 and he's up against a very good centre partnership [Jaque Fourie and Jean de Villiers]. "I expect Donald and Carter to interchange a bit and provide some decisiveness and tactical awareness they have been lacking of late. "I played for a few years at the Crusaders with Carter at No 12 and I thought he was going to be an All Black No 12. He might have even been a better 12 but he's a pretty good kid anyway."
email@example.com Marshall defies all odds, s10