Rugby Championship

Boks shrug off hype over Oupa

2014-09-26 22:19
Teboho Mohoje (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said the team would not be irked by media hype surrounding the selection of Teboho "Oupa" Mohoje and playing for a second place on the Rugby Championship standings, ahead of Saturday's Test against Australia at Newlands.

Given New Zealand's four-point lead at the top of the log, South Africa and Australia have been left fighting for an eventual second-place finish when the competition ends in just over a week's time.

Mohoje, who was still playing Varsity Cup rugby at the beginning of the year, was repeatedly overlooked in recent weeks after a 10-minute stint as a Springbok substitute against Scotland at the end of June.

His selection in the starting side this week was seen as a token one in several sections of the media after the Boks had been under transformation pressure for several weeks.

"I will not be bothered by media who see things otherwise," De Villiers said on Friday.

"Oupa deserves his place, and he's worked hard for it. His selection has nothing to do with race, and we've passed that stage a long time ago.

"Oupa has worked really hard and his work ethic has really impressed the coaching staff over the past few months.

"What I care about is the individual, and the person, and Oupa is an unbelievable guy. I think we're way past those days where we judge each other by our colour."

De Villiers said the Boks saw Saturday's Test as another chance to show their sense of responsibility as national players on the field.

"Our goal is to win tomorrow. We've worked this past week and we're happy that we can correct things on Saturday," De Villiers said.

"It's never nice losing and we want to get back to winning ways."

The Boks drew positives from their recent defeats at the hands of Australia and New Zealand, and would be "streetsmart" at Newlands.

"From a defence point, we've got to a stage where everyone understands what we want to do," De Villiers said.

"We know when to contest the breakdown and when to stay out."

De Villiers shot down veiled remarks that the match was all about playing for a second-place log position.

"No matter what the other results were, we want to win every time we put on the jersey," he said.

"Our aim is to be the best team in the world and if you think otherwise, then you're not approaching the match in the right way.

"It was frustrating, the last two results, but we have broken it down and the margins were small. We need to play to our strengths."

Nigel Owens will be the man in the middle and De Villiers said he was "comfortable" with the Welsh referee.

"He serves on the elite panel of world referees and he's one of the best," he said.


South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.

Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nic White, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne


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