Muir: ‘Players determined to get tour off to a good start’

2009-11-05 00:00

THE Springboks arrived in London yesterday and will open their five-match European tour against a Leicester Tigers outfit missing their five England caps at Welford Road in Leicester tomorrow.

The Leicester back-row of Tom Croft, Lewis Moody and Jordan Crane will start together for England in the opening international of the season against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, while lock Louis Deacon and centre Dan Hipkiss will also be missing.

The 29-man advance group of the Springboks (22 players and seven management) will be joined in France next week by the balance of the 57-strong squad.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers is to travel to Leicester tomorrow morning for the tour opener. The Boks will play Tests against France, Italy and Ireland over the next month and face one other midweek match against current Premier League leaders Saracens at Wembley Stadium.

The Springbok second-stringers will be badly underdone for this Leicester game, which will be played in front of a 24 000 capacity crowd.

They had a light practice yesterday and then wrap up preparations with a captain’s run tomorrow.

“The mood in the camp is positive and the players are determined to get the tour off to a good start,” said assistant coach Dick Muir, who has taken charge of the midweek team.

“The new guys are full of enthusiasm and I hope this reflects in their performance on Friday.

“Although the Tigers have lost a few of their top players to the England squad, they have good depth and will be tough opponents,” Muir added.

The match will mark the opening of the new Caterpillar Stand, which increases stadium capacity at Welford Road from 17 000 to 24 000. Friday’s clash is a sell-out. Kickoff is at 9.45 pm SA time with television coverage on SS1.

The Springbok team will be led by hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle who, according to Pretoria reports, is keen to quit the Blue Bulls and join Muir’s Lions because of the return to the province of former Bok Gary Botha.

Derick Küun, the current first-choice hooker with the Bulls, will play flank next year, but the signing of the burly Botha could again block Ralepelle’s path to a place in the starting line-up.

The promising hooker Bandise Maku, also on the Bulls’ books, is also on the Springbok tour.

“Ralepelle is contracted to us until 2011,”said Blue Bulls Company high performance manager Ian Schwartz, adding that they remained committed to the Springbok.

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