Bulls captain Victor Matfield has implored his compatriots to learn from the success story of the 2007 World Cup and use the Super 14 to “build-up a winning momentum” ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa later this year.
Speaking to rugby365.com’s Jan De Koning during a break from the Bulls’ pre-season build-up, Matfield said the Super 14 must once again serve as a “launch pad” for a successful campaign against the Lions – much like the Bulls’ winning of the 2007 Super 14 tournament gave the Boks a lift ahead of the World Cup in France.
“We saw in 2007 in the World Cup year how important it is to do well [in the Super 14],” Matfield told rugby365.
“Back then, when the Bulls and the Sharks played in the Final, the confidence were very high when we went into the international games in the World Cup year,” the Bulls captain added.
He said the strong performances of two of South Africa’s provinces – who went on to provide the bulk of the victorious World Cup squad – played a big role in the Boks’ success at the tournament in France.
“Hopefully this year we [South Africa] can have two or three teams that really do well in the Super 14, so that we can get our confidence levels up and gear up for the [British & Irish] Lions,” Matfield said.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers echoed similar sentiments, when he said the visit by the Lions – a tour that happens only every four years and reaches South Africa only every 12 years – will be a big stimulus for the SA players in the Super 14.
“It [the Lions tour] is something special,” De Villiers said, adding that it is important for teams to do well in order for the individuals to benefit.
“I learnt that the only way you as an individual can stand out, is if your team does well and that makes it easier for an individual to do well.
“You don’t have to go out and try be a champion and a hero. You have to stick to what you have to do in the team and if all 15 do their job then you’ll have a good team performance – so then hopefully you can stand out as an individual.”
Matfield felt that SA rugby in a good place at the moment and that if all goes according to plan this could be another big year.
“Yes, I do feel SA rugby is in a healthy position,” he said, adding: “The Sharks are right up there with the Crusaders as early favourites for the Super 14. The Stormers are doing very well and we saw [last month], even though it wasn’t our full-strength team, but the Lions looked very good [in beating the Bulls 44-21]. And we know the Cheetahs just lost out in a few games last year.
“So hopefully this year we can all make the step up and really do well.
“After the Super 14 we have just two weeks, then we play our first Test against the Lions. There are no games to lift us. If all the teams had poor Super 14 tournaments, then the confidence will be low, because we won’t really have time to recover.
“Hopefully two or three of our teams can really do well and then those players can go into the Lions series with form and confidence,” Matfield told rugby365..Tweet