Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The worst thing for a top participant in a team sport is to be sidelined when the best laid plans go wrong for the side he represents and his team-mates.
So it was understandable that Pierre Spies was not the happiest person in the Murrayfield crowd when the Springboks slipped down a precipitous path to a 21-17 defeat to Scotland last week that has ensured that the South Africans will not be able to hit the target they set themselves for this tour.
“We said we would aim for the Grand Slam and I suppose that is no longer in our sights now,” said Spies as he joined his team-mates in preparing for Saturday’s final Test of the tour against England at Twickenham.
“But we would still like to finish the year on a strong note and I suppose if we win our last match it will give us something positive to take in next season. I don’t think a win over England will balance the books as far as our critics are concerned, but it will at least mean a lot to the players from a confidence viewpoint.
“We like playing against England and we like beating them. They are a good team, a tough team to beat, and we win against them it means a lot. Any game against England at Twickenham is a big one. So in a way it is a good thing that we get a chance this week to make up for last week’s poor performance against Scotland.”
Spies was not selected for the Edinburgh game and he left no doubt that he didn’t enjoy the experience of watching his team lose.
“It was horrible, I really didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s difficult when you are sitting on the side and you see the guys struggling and you are unable to help them out. When you are playing you are at least involved in the moment and you don’t get so anxious. We really didn’t play well last week. We didn’t execute well and we made a lot of mistakes which meant we were unable to place any kind of pressure on Scotland.
“Obviously it was a massive disappointment for us as we did want to do the Grand Slam. But that is now out of our hands so we must go out and achieve what we can achieve, and winning against England will at least be something if we can pull it through. We know it will be tough because they are a good team and they are in form at the moment.”
Spies described the 2010 season as “an interesting year for us” and agreed that the Boks have slipped a long way from where they were after last season’s Tri-Nations.
“But if we get all our top players back next year and we get back our form and win the World Cup then it won’t matter so much,” he said.
Spies replaces Ryan Kankowski in the Bok team for Saturday’s match. He was the Bok man of the match in the last match he played against Wales at the Millennium Stadium two weeks ago.