Jean de Villiers (AP)
So who would have thought that after months of eagerly awaiting the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, speculating about team selection and planning our Octobers around fixtures to fit in all the games come play-offs time, it would come down to this?
The Springboks' most important game of this year’s tournament late in September! Yes, believe it or not, it is true. If we lose this game tomorrow against the hard hitting Samoans we might as well pack our bags and catch the first flight back to sunny South Africa.
I sincerely hope that after a slow start to my Rugby World Cup, by getting results wrong and backing the wrong teams, this will be a good weekend prediction-wise and be my turnaround in this tournament along with The Boks. Just like The Springboks, we are all in need of a massive rugby lift after last week’s disastrous opener against Japan.
Don’t despair, we will not lose against Samoa on Saturday and I think that we will win with a few points to spare. We have always done well against Samoa when we play them in World Cups and I think tomorrow will be no different.
Heyneke Meyer made eight changes to his team and, with the players he’s selected, they are sure to make an impact and difference to this team. I have been in a Bok team after a defeat and all you want to do as a player is to get back on the pitch and make amends for a poor showing.
Very few players played to their full potential last weekend and for some this will be the last throw of the rugby dice. Victor Matfield and Bok captain Jean de Villiers will be under immense pressure to perform well. For Jean there will be extra pressure to lead his team well and to a victory at the very least. Should he not do this it could very well be the end of his Test rugby career for the Springboks.
How do we beat Samoa? I wish I could give you all, including Heyneke Meyer, a fail proof copy of the game plan but there are certain things that a team needs to do when they play these big, hard hitting and free running islanders in order to get the desired result.
Structure, structure and again some more structure!
I have no doubt that playing a team like Samoa is just perfect for a Springbok team desperate to get back to winning ways. We are a team that enjoys structure and a team that needs to build an innings. With this I mean a team that needs to build a lead first before we start throwing the ball around and scoring tries from our own half.
We need to wear Samoa down with our structure, our driving line-outs, our clever kicks in behind their defence - also starving them of possession and especially turnover ball in the process. If we do this you will see a very different Samoa team trying to rectify the situation with reckless and dangerous play and some bone crushing and, more often than not, illegal tackles.
Rugby is really a very simple game and very often complicated by fancy game plans and tactics. It really comes down to doing the basics of the game exceptionally well in order to get a spectacular result.
On Saturday the nation will be holding its collective breath for 80 minutes. We need a simple but comprehensive performance not only to lift the nation but also this desperate Springbok team.
Let your passion drive this team.
Stefan Terblanche is providing player insight and match breakdown for Dunlop, proud sponsors of the Springbok Heritage section on Sport24.
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