New Zealand coach Ian Foster is fighting to save his job while South African counterpart Jacques Nienaber is battling to silence critics ahead of a Rugby Championship showdown between the arch foes on Saturday.
Foster has been unable to match the results of predecessor Steve Hansen and a 2-1 home series loss to Ireland last month triggered calls for his sacking.
Instead, assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar were dumped and Jason Ryan hired by the three-time world champions, who have lost four of their last five Tests.
But were New Zealand to lose in Mbombela, and again in Johannesburg next weekend in the second and final match of a mini-tour, it is difficult to imagine Foster surviving.
Foster, who assisted Hansen for eight years before being promoted, acknowledges the importance of the clashes with the Springboks, who have also been world champions three times.
“We are desperate to perform against South Africa,” he told reporters ahead of the first-round match. “There is a lot riding on these two matches.
“It is about the team manning up because the Springboks are not one-trick ponies. That is a complete fallacy.
“What they do well, they do really well. You do not become world champions if you are not proficient at a whole lot of things.
“They are a great tea
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