J.J. Harmse - Rapport
Boks seek redemption
Pretoria – Not only are the Springboks ready to win the Grand Slam with victories over Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, but they also want to win back the confidence of the South African rugby public.
That is the word from tour captain Victor Matfield ahead of the trip, which finishes with a match against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Matfield said that the tour would be a watershed for the Springboks.
“The reality is that we did not perform as well as we could this year and did not meet expectations. We have to put that right and I’m confident that we can do it,” said the Bok lock.
It will be the first time that Matfield leads the Bok team on a tour. He has previously captained the Boks, but only for one or two Tests at a time.
Regular skipper John Smit will miss the tour after undergoing neck surgery. However, Smit was with the team in Johannesburg, where they went through their final paces.
“The get-together was good to be able to achieve unity of purpose. I know it’s difficult for the Sharks and Western Province players who still have play the Currie Cup final on Saturday, but I was impressed with the willingness and commitment of the players during the team and field sessions,” said Matfield.
With only 13 fit backline players in the provisional Bok squad, it appears to be a fait accompli that youngsters Elton Jantjies (Lions) and Patrick Lambie (Sharks) will be in the tour squad that is announced after the Currie Cup final on Saturday.
The Boks normally take 14 backs on tour and coach Peter de Villiers indicated that this might be someone playing overseas. The candidates are Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar.
However, Steyn is struggling with an injury and did not play for French club Racing Metro at the weekend. It is unclear when he will be fit.
This may open the door for Pienaar. Sport24 understands that the necessary documentation between the South African Rugby Union (Saru) and Ulster has already been completed and that he will be released for the Boks’ tests.
Pienaar is likely to be utilised as a substitute in the Boks’ first test against Ireland when De Villiers may rest the players that were involved in the Currie Cup final.
Ulster-based prop BJ Botha is also likely to be included in the Bok squad. He was used with great success against Ireland last year and made a major contribution towards the Boks’ strong scrumming in Dublin.