England in SA
Boks have plenty to play for
Port Elizabeth - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has made it perfectly clear during the week that the third and final Test against England will be anything but a dead rubber.
With the series already clinched through the Boks’ efforts in Durban and Johannesburg, the side have set their sights on excellence and a victory on Saturday would go a long way in achieving this goal.
"I know South Africa needs a Springbok team that does well. It is more the pressure you put on yourself and I think it is more a pressure of excellence and high standards," said Meyer.
"I don’t even look at the score, to me it is about playing perfect rugby for 80 minutes. It is tough to get there and it is going to take time with this team."
The Bok coach would thus not be satisfied with anything less than a clean sweep 3-0 victory over the Roses at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on Saturday.
While Meyer was tempted to hand out new caps and give fringe players a run in the green-and-gold, he is adamant that players had to deserve their places in the side.
So far everything has gone according to plan for Meyer with the two victories, but in the greater scheme of things the side still had a lot to improve on, he said.
"I am very happy with the huge strides the team has made in some areas of our play. I think there are a lot of people who are surprised with the way we play," he said.
"This is not even ten percent of where we need to be, and it is going to be a long journey, and I am very proud of the team, and there is pressure.
"There is always pressure, it doesn’t matter how well you play, so there will always be pressure if you are a national coach."
The Boks showed great character to win the first Test in Durban where they won the match in the second half after a lacklustre first stanza.
While they hit their straps in the first half in Johannesburg to lead 25-10 going into the half-time break, a series of injuries disrupted their momentum and allowed England into the match.
If the team can maintain their performance at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium over the full 80 minutes, it would be mission accomplished for Meyer’s charges.
The Boks have been hit by a few injuries while the English have also had to make mainstay changes to their starting 22.
South African skipper Jean de Villiers said the team had not thought of a white-wash, but had set their sights on winning the match.
"That’s got nothing to do with this weekend’s game. It is a new Test. We’ve got some injuries and they’ve got a lot of injuries as well," De Villiers said.
"It is still Test rugby with England versus South Africa and both teams want to win that game.
"We’ve got a lot of things we want to improve on, but the main focus is to win this game.
"We are playing in PE. People are really desperate for rugby here and we’ve seen the support here in the week and we are really excited about the game."