Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)
London - Despite having played New Zealand 13 times before, Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis still rates Tests against the All Blacks as a dream of his childhood having come true.
Du Plessis will win his 78th cap when he starts at hooker for the Boks in the first Rugby World Cup semi-final at Twickenham on Saturday (kick-off 17:00 SA time).
The son of farming stock from South Africa’s Free State has emerged victorious on six occasions against New Zealand and recalls waking up early in the morning to watch the Boks take on New Zealand in his home town of Bethlehem.
“When you’re young you wake up at four o’clock in the morning in a freezing cold Bethlehem to watch the Springboks play the All Blacks and ever since those days it’s been a dream of mine to play against them,” said Du Plessis.
“This weekend I get another opportunity to play against them and that we as a team can showcase our talent against them.
“To be able to face New Zealand at this stage of the competition is a huge privilege and we have a massive task ahead of us. For us as forwards, the set pieces will be of cardinal importance and we have to lay a platform to ensure we can play in the right areas on the field.”
Du Plessis feels that although there is massive pressure on the Boks to perform, the reality is that they have been fighting from a corner since the second week of the Rugby World Cup.
“We’ve been playing for our lives from the start,” said Du Plessis.
“We were in that mind-set since the match against Japan and I think we could take that with us to this weekend because we only have one chance.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams