Rugby Championship

Jean: All Blacks 'special'

2012-09-14 13:22
Jean de Villiers (Gallo)
Cape Town - Springboks captain Jean de Villiers has said that the World Champions are the benchmark team, saying that while it was a great challenge to face them at Forsyth Barr Stadium, the All Blacks were the top side in the world.

According to the allblacks website, the South African centre has had a tough start to his career as Test captain, taking over as the first Springboks back to lead the team in recent times.

World record (in terms of test's led) holder John Smit stepped down last year, as did Victor Matfield, who effortlessly stepped into the breach when required.

Early in the season, before injuries played there part, some felt that the likes of Schalk Burger or Juan Smith would be given the armband in 2012, but that responsibility fell to the Stormers number 12, despite reports that Matfield or Fourie du Preez being called up in what would have been remarkable circumstances.

It will be his first Test against the All Blacks leading the Springboks, in what will be the 84th clash against the two great rugby superpowers.

De Villiers said that New Zealand were the kingpins.

"They have been the top side for a long time now and they showed last year coming through and winning the World Cup," he said.

"This year, they really have been fantastic at times. I think back to that last Test against Ireland and the 22-0 against Australia. Those types of results are pretty special and they're probably not firing on all cylinders.

"It's a great challenge for us, but from a pressure point of view, it's the pressure you put on yourself and we'll be doing that every single week to up our performance."

Some media in South Africa said that the Springboks had nothing to lose against the World Champions on their own turf, but de Villiers felt that losing in Perth changed things.

"After the first loss as a team and a couple of disappointing performances before that, the pressure is definitely on us," he said.

"It is in these tough times that we need to pull together as a team and believe in the systems that have been put in place and also believe in where we're heading as a team."

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