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Ken Borland



De Villiers praises Boks for standing up after twin defeats 0

Posted on October 14, 2014 by Ken

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers praised his team for standing up in the last 10 minutes and beating Australia in their Rugby Championship Test in Cape Town, putting aside the disappointment of two narrow defeats overseas.

South Africa lost 23-24 in Perth against Australia and 10-14 to New Zealand in Wellington, and looked on their way to another close loss when they trailed 8-10 going into the last 10 minutes at Newlands.

But a scintillating finish saw the Springboks score three tries to complete a 28-10 victory that was flattering if one considered how they struggled in the first hour to make headway against a brave Australian team.

“You will have disappointments along the way, as in life, but the important thing is the way you respond to it. We didn’t play badly abroad, a couple of things went against us and we lost. But part of the process is working on our mistakes; the goal is the World Cup next year, but we want to see if we can improve every week.

“The way we stuck together in the last 10 minutes, we showed intent and that’s how we want to play. All 23 players put their hands up and it was probably in the top 10 of best games I’ve played in, it was a special performance,” De Villiers, who scored two of the three late tries, said.

That the Springboks were able to up the tempo at the end of the match, with the Wallabies visibly tiring, was down to the massive impact made by their bench and the squad’s improved conditioning.

“The bench were brilliant, they were able to up the tempo. Sometimes I get criticised for choosing older guys, but I think it was the right decision to go for more experience on the bench. Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Pat Lambie and JP Pietersen were all very good and they made an unbelievably big difference,” coach Heyneke Meyer said.

“I always put an unbelievable emphasis on fitness because you just don’t have the time with the Springboks, but we’re almost there. This result was great for the fitness because there was no way we could have come back at the end without it. The Wallabies had flown to Cape Town and we threw the ball around in the last 10 minutes and it worked.”

Outstanding eighthman Duane Vermeulen, who was the Springboks’ best player before injuring his ribs, and veteran wing Bryan Habana (blow to the head) are the two injury concerns for the Test against the All Blacks in Johannesburg this weekend.

“if we play like we did tonight – exactly how we planned, sticking to our structures in the first 60/70 minutes and then breaking them down in the last 10 – then we’ll have a good shot next week. We were close against the All Blacks in Wellington and we just didn’t get there, but we just need to make sure we prepare well and put the hard work in this week,” De Villiers said.

 

Boks focus on laying the platform, not the bonus point 0

Posted on August 15, 2014 by Ken

The Springboks will be putting aside thoughts of the bonus point and will be concentrating on laying the platform for victory in their Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday, captain Jean de Villiers said on Friday.

Coach Heyneke Meyer began the week by stressing the importance of obtaining bonus points, and previous results, both against Argentina and at Loftus Versfeld, merely increase the expectation.

The Pumas’ four previous visits to the Highveld have always resulted in the Springboks running riot, winning 73-13 last year in Soweto, 63-9 at Ellis Park in 2008, 49-29 in Springs in 2002, and 46-26 in Johannesburg in 1994.

Since winning the series against the British and Irish Lions there in a three-point thriller in 2009, Loftus Versfeld has also been a high-scoring venue for the Springboks – beating Australia 44-31 in 2010 and 31-8 in 2012, and Samoa 56-23 last year.

But De Villiers preached caution on Friday.

“Argentina have selected a very strong side and we’re not looking past tomorrow, which is our most important game. We ended the incoming tours well and now we need to take that momentum into the Rugby Championship.

“Whatever happened before is in the past, it’s a brand new ball game. We have to start well and focus on what we do as individuals and collectively.

“It’s really about getting the first phases right and getting a platform. We’re not thinking about the bonus point, we’ll get the result if all the processes are in place, if we tick all those boxes,” De Villiers said.

The Pumas’ tight five has just 105 caps between them, compared to the 251 of their Springbok counterparts, but the Argentina loose trio is a force to be reckoned with, boasting the experienced Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, and the prodigious talent of Pablo Matera.

“They certainly have a good loose trio, they’re all quality players. Leguizamon and Lobbe have been around for a while and it’s going to be a real challenge at the breakdown, they’ve shown what we can do there.

“But I’m looking forward to the battle of the breakdown because we’ve got a good combination there as well,” De Villiers said.

The Pumas backline certainly has the potential to stretch the Springbok defences, especially with the increasingly expansive approach new coach Daniel Hourcade is advocating.

“Their nine [Martin Landajo] and 10 [Nicolas Sanchez] are an established combination and I played with Martin Landajo at the Barbarians, he’s a very good player.

“They have a lot of experience in midfield, Juan Martin Hernandez is a very gifted player and Marcelo Bosch has done really well at Saracens. So they will definitely challenge us defensively and we’ll need to be at our best,” De Villiers said.

The Pumas are streets ahead of the Springboks in terms of preparation, having been in camp for six weeks compared to just the two weeks Meyer has had to work with De Villiers and company.

But the Springbok captain said his team were happy with their preparation.

“It’s more time together than we’ve had in the past and we’re very happy with our preparation.”

Argentina could, in fact, have over-trained for the Test, with Hourcade apparently having his team out on the field three times a day.

Significantly for the Springboks, Saturday’s Test will mark the first Rugby Championship starts for flyhalf Handre Pollard, outside centre Damian de Allende and right wing Cornal Hendricks.

De Villiers, appearing in his 97th Test, will play between Pollard and De Allende and he said he was looking forward to guiding two of the future stars of Springbok rugby.

“It’s great to see guys come through and get their opportunity, Handre and Damian have showed that they are good enough.

“Handre showed in Port Elizabeth against Scotland that he ticks all the boxes as a world-class flyhalf. I’m very excited to play next to him for the first time, I’ve watched him since he started playing for the same school as me [Paarl Gymnasium] and it’s great to see how well he’s done,” De Villiers said.

The Pumas will undoubtedly be tricky customers on Saturday, but the Springboks need to win well in order to reinforce their standing as the All Blacks’ nearest challengers.

 

 



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