Victory in the Tri-Nations match against Australia here on Saturday is important for South African rugby, the Springboks and their coaches, says Victor Matfield.
“We also still have a tour at the end of the year,” the Springbok captain said on Thursday as the South Africans prepared for their last home match of the year.
“We want to gain confidence for the tour by doing well against Australia. We want to convert our opportunities into points and improve our decision-making.”
Hennie Brandt writes in Beeld that Matfield conceded that there had been “a feeling of desperation” earlier this week “but the smiles have been back on the faces since this (Thursday) morning”.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers studied video footage of last week’s defeat against the Australians before deciding not to make too many changes.
“We did not play too badly in Durban and I decided we should stand together as a squad,” De Villiers said.
He agreed that the Wallabies were likely to target the inexperienced trio at the back.
South Africa will have two rookie wings, Jongi Nokwe and Odwa Ndungane, to make up the triangle with fullback Conrad Jantjes.
“Yes, as a combination they are inexperienced and I realise the Aussies will have them in their sights,” De Villiers said.
“But Jongi and Odwa are good players and I’m sure they’ll be up to it. Weaknesses can change into strengths as easily as it can happen the other way round.”
When Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen dropped out of the running for the match at Coca-Cola Park because of hamstring injuries, De Villiers was forced to select Nokwe and Ndungane as the left and right wing respectively.
Together, they have played in only four Test matches and each has appeared in only one Tri-Nations match.
Jantjes, a comparative veteran, will have to pull the strings to help them keep calm under pressure.
De Villiers was, surprisingly, unable to find a place for versatile loose forward Joe van Niekerk.
The experienced player, who has signed to play for French club Toulon for a year, was on his way to the airport before De Villiers announced the team.
“We discussed the matter internally and decided Joe would not be involved on Saturday,” the coach explained.
Danie Rossouw, who can also operate at lock, and Luke Watson are the loose forwards on the bench.
Rossouw was unavailable last week because of a back injury.
All-rounder Frans Steyn was not considered after suffering a concussion last week.
Brian Mujati takes over as tighthead prop from CJ van der Linde, who has been suspended, and Jannie du Plessis takes Mujati’s place on the benchTweet