Bismarck not eyeing history
Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis had a very clear and direct message to his fellow players as they prepare for their Rugby Championship showdown with Australia at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.GALLERY: Boks train in Brisbane
The supersport.com website
reports that Du Plessis, the type of player who always lets his game do the talking, was surprisingly in a bit of a philosophical mood, especially when he was quizzed about South Africa’s poor record at the stadium – seven losses from as many games – and the Boks' struggle to do well when they play in Brisbane.
"You don’t want to look at history," Du Plessis gave a wry smile,
"If you always look at the past you will never see the future.
"Only we can change our future."
And while he was bated by the local media as they tried to get him to make a disparaging remark about the Wallaby pack, Du Plessis held firm. He was focused and resolute, much like he needs to be this weekend.
"It’s great to talk a big game, you got to show it on Saturday."
So far this week the Boks have not been talking big.
They have been playing down their hopes and punting the opposition.
They have made it very clear the Wallabies are not as bad as their record this season suggests, and that they expect a big backlash this weekend.
But for Du Plessis, the game is just one more step in a road he has travelled over a long period.
It is a road where he fell to the bottom last year through injury, then fought his way back up to the top again.
It is a road that saw him get his 50th cap in Mendoza against Australia and one which will now ask him to take a leadership role as vice-captain of the side and mentor to the younger players.
It is a tough road that he has travelled, but determination and grit is something that comes natural to Du Plessis.
"It was a long and lonely road, and sometimes thinking back at 12 months ago when I got injured, it was very tough.
"Coming back into the side I was greeted with open hands," he smiles.
"I’ll play wherever the coach picks me, at 16, 22 or 2.
"I just want to play my role for the team and play a part in winning here in Australia or next week in New Zealand.
"It’s definitely one of the things I want to keep improving on each weekend."
The Boks know the game on Saturday will be won or lost at the breakdown, an area the Wallabies will target and where Michael Hooper will hope for free reign.
But they have been quietly ironing out problems, and with the help of Scottish consultant Richie Gray have made it part of their ethos to ensure they get quick ball.
Du Plessis says Gray has had a profound impact on the team, helping them change their thinking and underlining that quest to improve in every game.
"If you work with him for a half an hour and you see the passion he brings to the game," Du Plessis explains.
"If you think there are maybe 10 scrums and 10 lineouts in a game and there are between 120-180 breakdowns in a game, its really something.
"If you want to create pressure on the opposition and you want to create opportunities for yourself then you have to be great at the breakdown.
"He worked on getting us better, and to be better cleaners, to be lower in our body position, when to clean the threat and when to look after the ball.
"The day you don’t want to improve, is the day you should stop playing.
"We want to improve in every game, and especially from Mendoza.
"But that’s two weeks ago and we face a totally different animal this weekend."
That animal may be a very familiar one, but it is one the Boks respect and know will pose a tough challenge.
Bismarck knows he needs to lead from the front and make an impact at the breakdown.
The task is difficult, but it is not insurmountable.
The Boks need to believe that.