Rugby Championship

Jean: Boks need to beat ABs

2014-08-06 18:30
Jean de Villiers (Gallo)

Johannesburg - With the 2015 Rugby World Cup looming large, the Springboks are eager for a victory over the All Blacks, a feat that has escaped them over the last two years.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said in Johannesburg on Wednesday that a Kiwi scalp would be a major confidence boost ahead of the showpiece in England.

"It still is a one game at a time approach and our focus is on Argentina," De Villiers said at a five-day training camp.

"But for us as a team, to go forward, it is important to beat the All Blacks. We haven't done so in the last two years and that is one of our goals.

"We want to be the best team in the world and we want to get back to No 1 and to do that we need to beat them."

The Springboks kick-off their 2014 Rugby Championship against Argentina in Pretoria next Saturday.

While the Springboks boasted a near perfect 83 percent winning record in 2013, the two defeats against the All Blacks were the only blemish.

The Boks have been unable to beat their arch-rivals since their 18-5 victory at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth in 2011.

Although the question of an All Black victory remains a nagging one, De Villiers said the side would not make it the be-all and end-all.

"I don't think the focus is just on them, the Wallaby team will be very competitive this year as well," De Villiers said.

"We can't just focus on one team and when you beat them think you've made it, but it is one of the boxes we haven't ticked in the last two years. We want to be able to tick that box and go into next year confident."

This year had so far been defined by comebacks of players, whose careers seemed to belong to the annals of South African rugby history.

Victor Matfield first dusted off his boots after a two-year retirement to become the oldest active Springbok player at age 37.

Schalk Burger also made a miraculous return to the green and gold in June after he was struck down by bacterial meningitis and sidelined for two years.

Earlier on Thursday, the announcement that fiery flank Juan Smith has been called into camp completed his remarkable comeback.

Smith retired from the game in early 2013 due to a persistent Achilles injury but found a new lease on his career at French club Toulon.

"What a story, I remember him handing over the jerseys last year in Nelspruit, and you could just see the determination in his mind.

"He felt at that stage he still had a lot to give and he still had some unfinished business, even though the majority of people wrote him off saying he will never play again."

Speaking of his own injury woes, De Villiers was confident that he would lead the team out against Argentina despite concern over a knee injury.

"I've been running for the last couple of weeks and since starting training this week it has improved a lot," he said.

"It is looking much better than I initially thought and at this stage it is looking good for next week.

"If I'm fit and if the knee is ready to go whether it is Currie Cup, Super Rugby or Test match, from a fitness point of view I am good."


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