Jean: Boks focused on Aus
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks will not make the mistake of looking past Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against Australia, said captain Jean de Villiers in Cape Town on Friday.
“We are playing against a quality Australia team and we have to be flipping good to beat them, so that is where our focus is at,” De Villiers said ahead of Saturday's match at Newlands.
“The reality is that we lost the last match we played (against New Zealand), so the tough thing is walking around all week with people saying we have to beat New Zealand."
A victory with the full complement of log points over the Wallabies will set up what would effectively be a final against the All Blacks next week in Johannesburg.
“For us it is first doing the job this week. We spoke about processes and trying to reach our goals, but we need stay in the moment and follow that process in taking one step at a time and doing what is needed to get a result.”
South Africa was in rampant form earlier this month when they beat the Australians for the first time in Brisbane since 1971. The following week, however, the All Blacks beat a Bok team playing with 14 players for the majority of the match.
De Villiers said while the team had made progress over the past few months, the match against New Zealand gave them some perspective on where they were rated against the number one team in the world.
“We are looking at where we are going as a team and what we want to achieve,” he said.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps in the right direction over the last couple of months but, after the last game, we also realised that there is still a lot of hard work to do for us to compete against the best in the world.”
The Bok skipper said they expected an improved performance from the tourists who won their first match with an unconvincing 14-13 victory over Argentina.
“The Australian team will be at their best on the weekend and they will come out firing, so it will be a massive game for us,” De Villiers said.
Australia have not won a match at Newlands since 1992, during coach Ewen McKenzie’s playing days, and were looking to upset the Boks at the picturesque ground which lies at the foot of Table Mountain.
“We need to improve in all facets of our play and we need to be able to put that together for 80 minutes.” Wallabies captain James Horwill said.
While the Boks were the clear favourites for Saturday's game, Horwill said they relished the opportunity to prove the critics wrong.
“They certainly deserve to be favourites there is no doubt about that. They’ve been playing some great rugby and we need to play better than we have previously,” Horwill said.
“We would have like to have won more games in the Rugby Championship but it is an exciting opportunity as there are a lot of people out there that do not give us a chance.”
Horwill said his troops needed to muscle up and match the Boks’ physicality but also play to their own strengths.
“We’ve got some really good guys especially in the forwards pack that are mobile and are good with the ball in hand, so we need to give them enough space and time as we can."
The match marked three milestones as Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis and flyhalf Morne Steyn would both be playing their 50th Test, and it would also be the 50th Springbok Test played at Newlands.
“They are two great servants to Springbok rugby and two great players," De Villiers said.
“They both would like to prove a point tomorrow and a lot of credit must go to them for the way they played the 49 matches prior to this one, and the sort of contribution they make off the field as well.”