Cowan expecting a tougher ride against the Boks

NZPA     14 Aug 2008    

Cowan turned on a superb all-round performance in Auckland as the All Blacks bounced back from a 34-19 defeat in Sydney to pull off a 39-10 win at Eden Park.

Then, as now, he gave his forwards the credit for setting an excellent platform up front.

"My job was certainly a lot easier," he said today.

"I'll appreciate it if they did it again this weekend, but I realise it's not going to be an easy task with the Boks."

He said South Africa would be far more physical at the breakdown and tougher at the set pieces that Australia.

At Cape Town's Newlands ground on Sunday morning (NZT), Cowan will be getting just his third start in what will be his 14th Test.

His first appearance in an All Black starting 15 was in South Africa two years ago, in the 21-20 defeat at Rustenberg.

His second was the Auckland Test 1-1/2 weeks ago, when the New Zealanders turned their game plan around to great effect, kicking for field position before accumulating their points.

Cowan was expecting another kicking contest for territory, saying that was the way the game was going under the experimental law variations.

"There's a lot more launches (of attack) off kicking now," he said.

"Over the last several Tests we've played, there's only been a certain amount of launches off scrums and lineouts. Kicking is a big part of it. I can't see too much changing."

He said he had got over the knee injury that had required him to get up repeatedly during the night before the Eden Park Test to apply ice, and he was back to 100 percent fitness.

Cowan played a straight bat when quizzed by South African journalists over opposition coach Peter de Villiers' choice of Springbok halfback for this week.

Ricky Januarie, whose moment of individual brilliance proved the match winner for South Africa in Dunedin last month, has made way for Fourie du Preez, who will be starting his first Test since the World Cup final last year.

The switch has been one of the main talking points arising from the naming of the Springbok team.

From Hero to Zero was how one Cape Town newspaper headlined its report the demotion of local boy Januarie to the bench.

Cowan said he had witnessed Januarie's great individual try from the Carisbrook sidelines, but he wasn't going to read too much into why Januarie wouldn't be starting at Newlands.

"It might be the way they are going to structure their game plan," he said.

"Who knows, but from where I'm sitting, they're both class halfbacks."