Aussies have one up on us – Smit

2011-10-03 07:56

Australia might feel that they have a mental edge over South Africa ahead of enter Sunday’s quarterfinal of the Rugby World Cup, Springbok skipper John Smit said upon his team’s arrival in New Zealand’s capital today.

“I think that they would feel that they have mental edge,” said Smit.

“The results leading into the World Cup over the last two years certainly favour them. We haven’t done very well against them this year, we haven’t beaten them. Last year wasn’t fantastic either so they have had one up on us.”

Smit was referring to the fact that his men only managed to secure one victory over the Wallabies over the last two years.

Between 2010 and 2011 the sides met on five occasions with Australia only losing at Loftus Versfeld when Victor Matfield celebrated his 100th Test appearance.

This year the Springboks sent a second string squad on the away-leg of the Tri-Nation and were subsequently beaten 39-20 in Sydney.

The most capped Springbok, and Test captain of all time, admitted that they have tried some different options from a selection point of view, but also credited the work former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans has been doing with the team.

Facing a more familiar opponent than, say, a northern hemisphere side is an aspect of the match Smit described as “nicer” for the team.

“Yes we do know their players better than most and they have been a team that has been improving every single year, so I think you are probably right – it is probably nicer to know you are going into a tough challenge but you have faced it before.”

Australia suffered two shock defeats en route to the play-offs.

First they went down 32-23 to Samoa in a warm-up match before Ireland banked a 15-6 win over Deans’ charges in their Pool C encounter at the World Cup.

Smit said that results leading up to Sunday’s quarter-final will have no influence on what is bound to transpire in the match.

He did, however, agree that experience would become more important as the tournament progressed.

“Experience will come to the fore when it comes to these play-off games in the next three weeks. We will see which teams can use the individual experiences of playing in play-off rugby to the best of their ability.”

Smit added that it will boil down to how well players absorb the pressure they are placed under and whether they will be capable of remaining composed enough to accomplish their goals.

“Game plans will differ according to the opposition you are playing and the weather conditions you have got; there are going to be so many factors that come into play and I think we are fortunate that we do have a few guys that have seen a few scenarios play out over the last decade.”

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