The Springbok heavyweights will return for the home tests

MIKE GREENAWAY IN Sydney

This time four years ago, John Smit and his band of “injured” Springboks watched Bob Skinstad’s dirt-trackers give the Wallabies the scare of their lives, and the watching Boks got a little sweaty themselves.

“We had a braai at Schalk Burger’s wine farm (the squad was in Cape Town for a training camp) and when our guys went 17-0 up, a lot of the guys went very quiet…,” Smit said this morning at his captain’s press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel at Sydney Harbour.

“A lot of guys put their hands up on that 2007 tour, and that is what the coach wants in 2011,” Smit continued. “These four Tri-Nations games are part of the World Cup puzzle and you want to find our everything you can about the players that will make up that 30-man squad. It is not just about how well you play, it is also about the overall chemistry of the squad – how the different personal combine to give you harmony, so yes, there is huge amount for every guy on this tour to play for.”

The Springbok heavyweights will return for the home tests in Durban (Australia) and Port Elizabeth (New Zealand) and when The Tri-Nations is over, the Boks will have a good idea of where they stand ahead of the World Cup, Smit said.

“Besides winning the games, it is important to get some measure of confidence and momentum going,” he said. “You want combinations to get functioning, you want selection headaches and healthy competition between the guys. You want to go to the World Cup with good options.”

Winning tomorrow’s test match, though, is the primary focus and Smit says leading a young team to a win in Sydney would mean a lot to him personally.

“When we came into land in Sydney it dawned on me that this will be last my match in Australia,” he said. “It is an emotional time for me because I am at that stage where there is only a handful of Tests that I can be contention for, so I really am approaching and preparing for each one as if it was my last.

“For me, it is about leaving everything out there on the pitch and not worrying about next week or even next year.”

Unfortunately, the weather is set to ruin the running game that both teams wanted to play.

“I can’t recall seeing so much rain. This week, at the age of 33 I went out and bought my first ever umbrella,” Smit said. “And it hardly ever happens that you can’t have your captain’s run on the eve of a Test because the ground is too water-logged. We also had to move a session into a school hall.”

But Smit said the rain had not disrupted the team’s preparations.

“We will not use the rain as an excuse. We have been preparing for this match for the last three weeks. It helped us not having a team in the Super Rugby final. We were done and dusted with preparations before we got on the plane, and then we had good weather here on Monday and Tuesday to fine tune, so the weather hasn’t really disrupted us.”

The Boks are fortunate to have accomplished field kickers in Ruan Pienaar and Morne Steyn, and Smit admits that their kicking contest with Will Genia and Quade Cooper could decide the match.

“Unfortunately the rain will mean significantly more kicking for the halfbacks. Ruan has kicked a lot in the wet at Ulster and we know Morne is one of the best kickers in the world, but then Genia and Cooper kicked more than any other halfbacks in Super Rugby and their team won, so they must be pretty good at it!”

Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)

Springboks: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Danie Rossouw 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit (capt), 1 Dean Greyling.

Substitutes: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Patrick Lambie, Adi Jacobs.

Wallabies: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O’Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (capt), 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu.

Substitutes: Saia Faingaa, Pekahou Cowan, Nathan Sharpe, Matt Hodgson, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Anthony Faingaa

About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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