South Africa will send their best troops to do battle with Scotland’s bravehearts at Murrayfield on Saturday, the second Test on the Springboks’ year-end tour.
Following a training session in the bitter cold in Edinburgh, zipped up to their necks, Bok coach Peter de Villiers swiftly ruled out the possibility of following New Zealand’s example and fielding a second-string line-up against the Scots.
Rugby 365 reports that the Kiwis easily beat Scotland 32-6 last weekend, despite fielding a second-string selection and most of the talk since has been about a Scottish team in decline.
However, De Villiers told a media gathering on Monday that he was “unhappy” with the Boks’ performance against Wales (a 20-15 win in Cardiff) last Saturday and is intent on ensuring the team step up against Scotland and go into their final match with England at Twickenham with a whitewash in their sights.
De Villiers made it clear that he was planning to field his best available line-up.
“My way of thinking is always that our country needs role models,” he said, “and the only person who gets to be a role model is somebody who works hard to get ahead in life.
“We’re not going to give away freebies on this tour. Guys will have to earn their spots. I think they will cherish the jersey more if they know they have earned it. If there are any changes, the players involved will deserve their places.”
The Bok coach also talked up Scotland, despite not having beaten South Africa in any Test since 2002 and looking like a team in decline, following their loss to the All Blacks’ B-Team at the weekend.
“While the Boks have an excellent record against Scotland, Frank Hadden’s side always play with pride and passion at home, as they showed by beating England in the Six Nations this year.
“They held their own against New Zealand, especially for the first 60 minutes and if you come that close to win against a team like New Zealand, then you draw hope to take in against the next guys.
“Unluckily for us, we are the next guys and we think Scotland will come out with all guns blazing.
“The professional era has brought all the countries so close together that there is little to choose between them now. On their day, any team can beat any other team. Wales nearly did it against us on Saturday. If luck comes your way, the ball bounces your way and you take your chances, that’s the difference between winning and losing.
“You don’t underestimate anybody in this professional era and we don’t look down on anyone. I have been reading a lot about Scotland and the thistle, where it comes from and what it stands for. Scotland are a proud nation and they will stand up for themselves. They won’t go down without a fight. We will have our work cut out.”
The fitness concern over veteran lock Bakkies Botha is the only real doubt, after centre Adrian Jacobs trained with the squad in Edinburgh on Monday.
Jacobs might be a doubt for England given the greater physicality and defensive presence offered by Jaque Fourie (the Bok outside back’s defence wasn’t great in Cardiff), but De Villiers is expected to continue with him against Scotland.Tweet