Opinion: This could be a dress rehearsal for the World Cup final

2:28 pm on 27 July 2019

Opinion - It doesn't matter if it's a nice day in Wellington which, admittedly, it has been all week.

T J Perenara says the All Blacks are focused on avenging their surprise loss to the Springboks and won't be basking in another Rugby Championship success.

The All Blacks have fielded a near full-strength side for tonight's clash against the Springboks in Wellington. Photo: Photosport

The city has an environment in which you have to be extremely wary about how quickly it can change.

Despite the bright sunshine, just walking into the shade can drop the temperature down to where it feels like someone has performed osmosis through your skin.

The All Blacks haven't had that great a time here in the capital in the last few years.

They've recorded two losses, sandwiching a forgettable win against a woeful French team reduced to 14 men after only 10 minutes.

In 2017 they undermined themselves in an epic 24-21 loss to the British & Irish Lions.

But right now the only game they'll be thinking about is the even more incredible 36-34 loss to the Springboks last year.

In the grand scheme of what has historically been rugby's greatest rivalry, it was a stunning result for the South Africans.

Just a year before, they'd been humiliated in Albany - shunted out to Auckland's forgotten stadium, only to be destroyed 57-0 by the All Blacks.

It was a nice night last September, just like it has been this week, when the Boks returned to a New Zealand rugby field.

No one gave them a chance, even though they had almost pulled off a remarkable comeback in Cape Town later in 2017.

That's why tonight is feeling a bit like it could possibly go the same way.

This is a Springbok team that is scarily good, a Frankenstein's monster made up of the dysfunctional parts of their under-performing Super Rugby sides.

Extracted from the boredom of the Stormers, the frailty of the Lions, the inexperience of the Bulls and the general mediocrity of the Sharks, the Boks are now into their second season under Rassie Erasmus.

He has managed to turn a side that lost to Italy only two years ago into one that beat the All Blacks on home soil, but like Steve Hansen, he will be casting his eye further than just what happens after fulltime tonight.

Springboks' RG Snyman celebrates at the final whistle.

The Springboks have good memories of last year's Test against the All Blacks in Wellington. Photo: Photosport

Like how the last three clashes between the two sides organically turned into a three-test series like the old days, there is every chance we might see that scenario play itself out again this year.

Obviously they will meet tonight here in the capital, and then again in the opening pool match of the World Cup.

The result of that will send one nation to the other side of the draw, where they can then shake off the loss and power their way through to meet one another again in the final.

It happened in 2011, when France bounced back from a comprehensive hiding by the All Blacks in pool play to come within a point of winning the final.

It happened in 2007, when England were torched by the Boks to have a much closer scoreline in a final that very few New Zealanders would have bothered to watch.

The All Blacks would have played an English side they'd beaten in the first match of the 1991 World Cup in the final, yet didn't even make it themselves.

Tonight's match will give us a pretty good indication of whether or not the All Blacks and the Springboks are destined to meet for the game's ultimate prize.

Though they won't admit it, the All Blacks will be out for revenge for last year's loss at the same venue, and will want to start rebuilding Westpac Stadium as a frozen fortress that overseas teams will dread coming to.

*Jamie Wall is a freelance sports writer, specialising in rugby. Over the last two seasons, Jamie has travelled with the All Blacks to Buenos Aires, Sydney, Tokyo, London, Dublin and Rome, and he will be attending the 2019 Rugby World Cup. His first book, Brothers In Black: The long history of brotherhood in New Zealand rugby, will be available in August.

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