South African born New Zealand lock Greg Rawlinson is grateful he avoided making his All Black debut against his native country.
The 28-year-old made his Super 12 debut for the Sharks at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld, and makes his first appearance in the Republic for the All Blacks at the same venue.
However, having turned out for the Tri-Nations winners in his adopted homeland earlier this year, he will not have the additional pressure of a debut against the team he once wanted to play for.
Rawlinson told The New Zealand Herald: "I’ve been pretty good this week so far. The first time I pulled on the black jersey it was quite a big moment, so I’m focused on the rugby now and feel I can deal with it a bit better.
"I’ve gone through it in my head a number of times but I think I’ll be ready for it. It’s quite strange. I played my first provincial game at Loftus so coming back here with the All Blacks is quite a big thing."
He added: "I’m used to all of that. Any opposition coming over here is going to get some abuse, but will there be any more this time? I don’t know, we’ll have to see."
Rawlinson, who left South Africa three years ago, made his debut against Ireland having fulfilled a three-year stand-down period.