Div serious about top honours
Johannesburg - The Springbok squad selected for the away leg of the Tri Nations tour could play a big role in helping the South Africans regain the No 1 spot, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said on Tuesday.
Instead of focusing on the disruptions caused by injuries - the Boks have lost more than 23 players to injury - De Villiers insisted his charges could regain their status as the best in the world.
"To me, this is the Springbok team that is going to compete and we are serious about becoming number one in the world again," he said.
"If we can do that before the World Cup, it will be brilliant."
With the core of his regular team missing from the shortened Australasian tour, De Villiers emphasised that a great deal of their success depended on the ability of his men to work as a unit.
During a training session at Hyde Park High School, counterattacking and establishing a tight defensive line were just two of the areas being fine-tuned.
"We worked on a couple of things that were bothering me and I must say that I'm really excited about the way the guys are adapting - especially the younger guys," said De Villiers.
While Stormers prop CJ van der Linde took to the field the day after his late call-up, lock Gerhard Mostert - the other new face in the squad - had to deal with "off-field" duties but will be involved in Wednesday's morning session.
Cheetahs fetcher Heinrich Brüssow was also given more time to fully recover from a hamstring injury which he picked up in Super Rugby.
"Every time he (Brüssow) got injured, they pushed him back too early so we will rather be over-cautious with him," said De Villiers.
Good news in the camp is that try-scoring prop Coenie Oosthuizen has also shown positive signs of recovery after he injured his ankle in training last week.
Although the starting XV for the opening match against Australia in Sydney, on July 23, may be one of the less experienced sides fielded by De Villiers in his tenure, most of the players have been exposed to the Test arena.
During the 2010 year-end tour, several of the younger players enjoyed a taste of Springbok rugby against the Barbarians.
De Villiers said they would look to build on the experience gained in that environment.
"I think the lesson that we learnt from that Barbarian Test is that you can't go with all these new guys when the going gets tough - they all try to be the saviours of the team and we are working hard to mature them a bit.
"Coming from Cape Town where we know how to mature wine, we are using the same principle."