Joost’s visit inspires Boks

2012-08-25 00:00

MENDOZA — The Argentinians, playing the Springboks in front of their partisan and vocal home crowd in Mendoza today, will be far passionate than they were in the Rugby Championship international at Newlands a week ago.

But so, too, will the Springboks after legendary scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen made an emotional appearance at the team’s hotel yesterday.

Van der Westhuizen, fighting for his life after being diagnosed with a motor neuron disease, handed out the jerseys to the Springboks on the eve of the Test.

The Bok legend, who played in 89 Springbok Tests and scored 56 tries in 111 matches for South Africa, delivered a strong message to Heyneke Meyer, Jean de Villiers and the Springboks.

“It’s a great honour for me to be here today,” said Van der Westhuizen. “I’m glad that I have the opportunity to talk to you as you are building what I believe will become a great team in future.

“In my life there is no tomorrow and that is why I urge you to be great tomorrow against Argentina, as you represent your country, your family and yourselves.”

Clearly moved, Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said the involvement of Van der Westhuizen was an inspiration to the players.

“It was all very special,” he said.

De Villiers said the Boks, playing in front of a capacity 45 000 crowd at the Malvinas Argentinas Stadium, would have to be better than they were at Newlands.

“The Pumas are at least 10 points better at home. They are a passionate nation. This will be their first home game of the Rugby Championship and they will come out firing. They have a lot to play for.

“We need to take the good out of the last game and focus on our game plan.”

The Bok captain said the loss of injured flyhalf Juan Hernàndez was a blow to the Pumas.

“But our game plan doesn’t change at all because of their personnel change.”

He said the Boks needed to play to their strengths.

“Last week, we didn’t finish off our opportunities; executing and finishing off our opportunities need to be improved. We are a team that must improve every week,” he said.

Argentina are hoping a change of venue will bring a change of fortune.

The Pumas have lost all seven home Tests against the Springboks since they first met 19 years ago, and all were played in the capital, Buenos Aires.

Coach and former Pumas flank Santiago Phelan told reporters: “My players are thrilled to be part of the first Rugby Championship match to be played in Argentina. It is a big deal for us.

“We are disappointed by the way things went in the first Test, but we did not play that poorly and were competitive. We hung in there, but the team need to play better this weekend.

“There was good quality ball for us from the scrums and lineouts and we tried to play it. Despite conceding three tries, our defensive screen was very good at time.”

He said he had been impressed by the Boks.

“The Springboks are powerful, play head-on rugby and aim to impose a physical presence. They are a complete team — very powerful forwards and very skilful backs,” said the coach.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said his players knew they were in for a mighty physical battle in spite of their 27-6 win at Newlands.

“They will step it up this weekend in front of their home fans,” Meyer said. “It will be a very tough test and we need to be 100% switched on.”

The Boks have made two changes, with Adriaan Strauss replacing the injured Bismarck du Plessis at hooker while Jacques Potgieter starts at blindside flank with Keegan Daniel dropping to the bench.

The Boks will look to their big ball-carriers, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Potgieter, Eben Etzebeth and Beast Mtawarira, to breach the gainline and keep their side on the front foot. And they have the boot of Morné Steyn as insurance if the contest is close.

But it will be the most bruising of contests, with the Pumas desperate to show their home supporters that they can indeed play with the big boys of world rugby.

Teams

Argentina:15 Martin Rodriguez,14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Alvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.

Replacements: Marcos Ayerza, Martin Bustos Moyano, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Juan Imhoff, Martin Landajo, Tomas Leonardi, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Bruno Postiglioni, Nicolas Sanchez, Leonardo Senatore, Tomas Vallejos

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner; 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia). Kick-off: 9.10 pm (SA time).

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