Boks eager to make 'rugby-mad nation' proud

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:53

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks play their last match of the season on Saturday against Wales in Cardiff, but captain Eben Etzebeth said his side will not need any extra motivation for the clash in the Principality Stadium.

South Africa, one of rugby union's traditional major powers, suffered a humiliating 3-38 loss to Ireland in Dublin three weeks ago but have since beaten France and Italy while in Europe.

On Saturday, the Springboks will play their 13th Test of the international season and Etzebeth said he and his team are very motivated for their contest against the Welsh, which will be played in front of a crowd of more than 65 000, with the stadium roof closed for the occasion.

"If you play for, or coach, the Boks, there is always going to be pressure," South Africa captain Eben Etzebeth insisted.

"The whole rugby-mad nation is looking at you, and Saturday's game is going to be another pressure Test. We are looking forward to it,"

The lock added: "We always look at our scrum as a weapon. We're a set-piece team, we like scrummaging, the mauling battle. We don't care who we are playing out there, we always go for them at scrums, mauls and line-outs,"

Springbok lock Lodewyk de Jager echoed his captain sentiment stating that the side are aiming to wrap up a season that has shown much improvement on last year, when the Springboks managed just four wins from 12 Tests.

"We were utterly disappointed with last year, all the results we had," De Jager said.

"This year, from the start we said we needed to be better, on and off the field, and there's a better vibe than last year,"

"This year has been about restoring pride. We needed to after a year like last year, it was not up to our standards, or standards of the history of Springbok rugby."

De Jager added: "If we get a good result on Saturday, we can be reasonably pleased with the year.

"It's our last game for six months and we want to end the year off well,"

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has rung the changes from the side that dismantled Italy 35-6 last week, making five changes to the starting line-up.

"Wales are still a good side," Coetzee said. "They've got great attacking ability... they're very competitive at set piece - you can never write off the Welsh team,"

"I am really satisfied with the progress shown this year, which has been massive compared to this time last year," Coetzee told reporters on Friday.

"The players have grown, there is a lot of cohesion and the evolution has been satisfactory. If we could finish the tour with three wins, it would show a massive improvement," the under-pressure coach added.

"Ireland were too good for us that day and played an excellent kicking game. We learnt from that and pulled through against France, and we were clinical against Italy. We have to take it one step further this weekend.

"The team is completely different from Cardiff last year, the team environment has changed a hell of a lot and our processes are in place with a clear understanding of how we want to play,"

Agence France-Presse