Boks on Tour
No excuses - Victor Matfield
Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The absence of the Springboks' star players will not be an excuse when the national team kick off their five-week Grand Slam tour in Ireland, captain Victor Matfield said on Tuesday.
"It is not easy, but we are international players and we need to be ready to adapt and take it as it comes," he said.
The Boks have been hit hardest in the midfield, and may possibly have none of the first-choice centres available for their first match on Saturday.
The Bulls' Wynand Olivier and Western Province's Jaque Fourie and Juan de Jongh have been ruled out for the rest of the season.
There is still uncertainty about whether Jean de Villiers will recover in time from the groin injury he picked up in last week's Currie Cup final.
Matfield admitted that this complicated matters in training, but he insisted that there was enough depth of talent in the squad.
"It is always tough when there are injuries, especially when it is as late as they have been, and we are still waiting for two guys, but I still think we have a great squad here."
Having last won a match against the Irish in 2004, the Springboks have a point to prove and indications are that the younger men will be called into action to end the drought.
"There are a lot of young players coming through as well as in-form players that are in the squad at the moment," said Matfield.
"So, we are looking forward to the challenge and we know it is going to be tough in Ireland, but we believe in what we are doing and we believe that we can go out and do well there," he said.
The legendary lock, who is set to equal John Smit's record of the most Test caps for a Springbok forward – 102 – was also quick to counter criticism that the team's late departure would count in Ireland's favour.
"I think we've done it before with this team. We went to Perth and won that game as well when we only travelled through on the Wednesday.
"It is not a first time for us and there are also no time zones, so the guys will sleep on the flight, enjoy a day off the next day and then on Friday it will be the captain's run and the guys will be focused and ready for the game."
Tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis reiterated what his captain had to say about the disruptions caused by injuries.
"I don't think the guys worry about who is going to be picked or not.
"I think we get onto the training field and do our jobs as good as we can regardless of who plays because we know that whoever comes in is still going to wear a Springbok jersey and was playing good rugby wherever he got a chance," he said.
"We are not thinking about who is in or out. That is none of our concern.
All of us have our own jobs and we are just focusing on that."