Coach Heyneke Meyer spoke about the importance of improving the overall Springbok discipline earlier in the week and he has probably been helped in that quest by the identity of the referee for Saturday’s first test against Wales at Growthpoint Kings Park.
Skipper Victor Matfield said at the pre-match captain’s press conference on Friday that the Boks had enjoyed a very constructive meeting with Frenchman Romain Poite earlier in the week, with the emphasis being on communicating what they require from this immediate game rather than dwelling on what has happened in the past.
It was Poite who effectively ruined the Bok chances of winning last year’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship when he wrongly red carded Bismarck du Plessis in the match against the All Blacks in Auckland. But if there are any hang-overs from that, Matfield and his teammates are keeping it well hidden.
What they are aware of though is how trigger-happy Poite is when it comes to dishing out cards, and the Boks want to deny him that right by turning in a perfectly disciplined performance in the Durban game.
“Romaine is a very strict referee, we know that,” said Matfield.
“We have (management member) Chean Roux tasked with studying the referees for their habits and trends each week, and he has given us his feedback. Poite gives out an average of one yellow card per game. So we are going to have be particularly disciplined in this game.
“We had a good chat with him on Wednesday. We didn’t chat about last year because that is irrelevant now, we were more focused on letting him know what we want to do in the game and what we are trying to achieve. It was a constructive chat and we were quite happy with how it went. We don’t envisage any problems and we must just hold our discipline.”