Springboks eager to break Rugby Championship title drought

2014-08-15 16:13

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The Springboks will be eager to break their four-year title drought when they kick off their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in Pretoria tomorrow.

Before even considering beating New Zealand for the first time in two years to lift the trophy, the Boks first need to get past the capable South Americans.

“We can’t look at what is going to happen against Australia and New Zealand – the most important game right now is tomorrow,” Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said today.

“It is important to start well and get confidence back for the team. We ended off well in the incoming tour and now it is about taking that momentum and building on it.”

A new centre pairing between De Villiers and debutant Damian de Allende would be tested tomorrow, while the Springbok captain would also have Handrè Pollard on his inside for the first time.

De Villiers said the 20-year-old had already proved himself at this level and looked forward to having two youngsters on either side of him.

“Handrè has been selected there because the coach feels he is good enough to play at this level. He showed it in Port Elizabeth against Scotland,” De Villiers said.

“What I’ve seen of him, he ticks all the boxes of a world-class flyhalf and I am very excited to play alongside him.

Promising lock Lood de Jager would also form a new second-row combination with Bok stalwart Bakkies Botha.

De Jager would play number-five lock, a position for which he had been groomed, to eventually replace Victor Matfield, who had been sidelined for this Test with a knee injury.

Argentina were traditionally strong in their set pieces and although there had been indications they would also play with more width, De Villiers believed the toughest battles would be fought up front.

“We will be hoping to have dominance at first phase and we will be looking to get our set pieces right, to get our scrums, line-outs and kick-offs right. If we can get that nice platform, hopefully we can get enough ball to attack from.”

Much of the focus this week had been the breakdowns, knowing the Boks would face the dangerous loose forward duo of Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Manuel Leguizamón.

“They have a good loose trio, quality players, and guys like Leguizamón and Lobbe have been around quite a while,” De Villiers said.

“They’ve shown at club and international level what they are capable of and we are looking forward to the battle of the breakdown. We’ve got a good combination as well.”

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