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Tri-Nations
Mallett backs Boks to fire on tour
Scrum.com
June 27, 2010
Italy coach Nick Mallett talks to his players, Italy training session, East London, South Africa, June 25, 2010
Nick Mallett believes the Springboks have hit top form © Getty Images
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Nick Mallett believes that South Africa can again do some damage on New Zealand soil in this season's Tri-Nations.

The Italy coach, whose side was thrashed 55-11 by the Springboks in East London on Saturday, predicted that the confidence coursing through the camp would stand them in good stead when they kick off their title defence against the All Blacks in Auckland on July 10.

Mallett's tenure as Springboks coach between 1997 and 2000 included 17 consecutive Test victories and a Tri-Nations crown so he is well placed to evaluate their form.

"We've seen this team really mature over the past couple of years," he said. "They really respond well to challenges. Back in the 90s it was really tough to go over there and win matches.

"But now the players don't fear them and know they can win over there - in fact, they think they're better and after last season's performance and the success of the Bulls in the Super 14 they've every right to be confident."

The Boks' first Test performance against Italy in Witbank was widely criticised but with their leading lights, including skipper John Smit, restored, there was little room for manoeuvre for Mallett's tourists.

"It was a shoddy performance by the Springboks last week and it wasn't a great performance by us but you have to put in the work before you can knock over a team - even one like Italy - and this week they did that," he said. "This is a really strong Springbok side, the best they can put out - give or take one or two players - and they showed it this week, normal service was resumed."

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