Belief returning to Boks

2011-09-20 08:47

Auckland - South Africa feel they have what it takes to successfully defend their World Cup title defence with minnows Namibia their next tournament indicator at North Harbour on Thursday.

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It's been an underwhelming year so far for John Smit's Springboks - losing half of their six internationals leading into the World Cup and a distant third in this season's Tri-Nations behind the Wallabies and All Blacks.

But there were signs in last Saturday's 49-3 dispatching of Fiji that it was the Boks of old as they build towards a likely quarter-final showdown with the Wallabies.

"We were feeling the heat and put a heck of a lot of preparation into the Fiji game, and to be honest we are all a bit shocked that it went so well," utility back Francois Steyn said.

"For the whole team it has been an eye-opener to see what we can do. The belief is flooding back."

South Africa have made five changes and welcome back winger Bryan Habana for their third Pool D game with their African neighbours.

Habana missed the Fiji romp with a knee injury and will have another crack at becoming the all-time Springbok record tryscorer, an achievement he currently shares with with Joost van der Westhuizen on 38 tries.

"Bryan brings a lot of energy to the team, he's a bundle of energetic spirit that we need there. I'm happy to give him a run again and see that he's over his injuries," coach Peter de Villiers said.

Francois Hougaard will start at scrumhalf with Fourie du Preez on the bench, while flanker Willem Alberts replaces Heinrich Brussow and prop CJ van der Linde gets his first start of the tournament at tighthead.

Locks Victor Matfield and Johann Muller, centre Jean de Villiers and flyhalf Butch James were not considered for the match.

The Springboks are expected to pile on the points against the Namibians, hammered 105-13 in their only meeting in Cape Town four years ago.

Skipper Smit, who will again become the most capped Springbok player when he wins his 109th cap, is backing up for his third game at the tournament.

"I think we certainly are making progress. In a World Cup, if you can keep winning and improving there's enough weeks for you to get into your perfect type of form," Smit said.

Much has been made this week of an impending quarter-final with the Wallabies after their shock 15-6 loss to Ireland.

"That's the wonderful thing about a World Cup. There are so many permutations and people trying to guess the routes and pathways," Smit said.

"I think as a team if you try and think what might come, you often lose sight of where you need to be going in the next couple of minutes.

"Any team that wants to win a World Cup needs to beat whoever's in front of them in that next weekend."

Habana said Ireland's stunning victory has jolted the World Cup reckoning.

"It's great for the World Cup. It's shaken the whole thing up a little bit. It's made the whole thing more exciting going forward," he said.

"We now know that if we want to have any chance of getting to the top, we're going to have to beat some of the best teams in the world. It's going to be the same on the other side of the draw as well."

The 19th-ranked Namibians, drawn largely from local amateur club rugby, know this will be a monumental challenge to stop the scoreboard from going into meltdown.

"I think it's going to be tough but, for us, it's a huge honour and privilege to play against the defending champions," centre Danie van Wyk said.

Flanker Tinus du Plessis added: "It's going to be awesome. South Africa are our neighbours, so it's a bit of a grudge match."

* Click HERE for the latest RWC odds on BET.CO.ZA


  • InternetMan - 2011-09-20 09:34

    frans by 8

      AMS-Dammer - 2011-09-20 11:20

      frans? Frans Steyn? Frans Ludiker? Or are you speaking about Frans.... the guy from the Petrol station?

      SA-FAN - 2011-09-20 11:38

      how many names does jk have?

      Anon - 2011-09-20 12:48

      JK Who?

  • Sundance - 2011-09-20 09:45

    @Moron You certainly picked the right name for yourself.

  • Zooma Lema - 2011-09-20 09:46

    Fiji is by far not Australia or the All Blacks. The road ahead is narrow and winding and it is a gravel road. We cannot afford to play under performers like John Smit, Fourie du Preez and Brian Habana.

  • Herman Nel - 2011-09-20 09:47

    Looking forward to this game, will be the first game that I don't lose hair about before the game and during

  • warerugby - 2011-09-20 09:54

    I have never stopped believing that we will win the RWC if we thoose the right players.

  • Bart - 2011-09-20 10:00

    Hi Moron, Your comment and the responses are simplistic. I cannot believe the small mindedness of people. Here we have a team doing well and all we still focus on is race! It is true that less blacks play rugby than whites, but that is only one reason why the team is mainly white. Which is the tallest nation in the world - the Dutch. Most of the South African players are of Dutch decent. It is in their genes to be larger and stronger than most people. There are other problems with facilities, selection at lower levels, etc. Even if those problems are fixed we will still have a mainly white team. Genetics. Please stop focussing on race and try to enjoy life!

  • Etienne Oosthuizen - 2011-09-20 10:22

    Moron ... the name says it all

  • SA-FAN - 2011-09-20 10:40

    I am so tired of reading "put Bismarck on instead of Smit", yes Bismarck is a far better player than John Smit, but Smit is our captain and the coach has made it clear that he is going to start with him. So put this thing to rest and stop complaining and start supporting the Boks whichever players are selected. Sounds like babies who is crying because they don't get milk!

      AMS-Dammer - 2011-09-20 11:18

      Bismark's problem is, HE CANNOT THROW A BALL STRIGHT IN A LINE OUT!!! Maybe thats the reason he is a BENCH WARMER??? If he gets to SIT ON THE BENCH...THAT IS!

  • jacs - 2011-09-20 10:45

    @ Moron : It's a sad day when people in South Africa cannot get behind their team and support them and the only focus is on how many blacks and whites there are. What about the indians? They aren't represented and I am pretty sure there a few of that race in South Africa. Oh, and why are there NO whites in the soccer team. You want fairness than there should be equal numbers in ALL the teams in South Africa. Like others have said, it's how well they play the sport, not the colour of their bloody skin. Until you stop seeing colour you'll never be able to build a great nation.

  • Johann - 2011-09-20 11:48

    Ja well, no fine ............. go Nike, Just do it!!! GOOOO BOKKE!!!

  • Gecko14 - 2011-09-20 12:28

    Grudge match? More like a bit of a miss-match : )

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