No complacency at Murrayfield

2012-11-17 00:00

JEAN de Villiers says that the defeat suffered by the Springboks the last time they were at Murrayfield would ensure that there was no complacency for the Test against Scotland this afternoon.

The Boks, crowded with experienced players, were beaten 21-17 by Scotland in 2010, just a week after the home team had been thumped 49-3 by the All Blacks.

Today, the second-ranked Boks face the ninth-ranked Scotland. De Villiers said, at the captain’s press conference yesterday, that the fear of history repeating itself has focused the players’ minds this week.

“The last time we were here, we lost. We’re not thinking of the difference in the ranking points. You cannot underestimate or struggle for motivation against a team that you lost to the last time you met.”

De Villiers, who has spent the week in bed with flu, dismissed the suggestion that the Boks were already looking ahead to next weekend’s game against England.

“We are looking at Murrayfield, not Twickenham. We’ll concentrate on England next week.

“This is also about the targets you set yourselves. We know we have to be up for Scotland and we respect them.”

De Villiers said the second-half revival against Ireland last Saturday had been a major step-up for the team.

“In the same situation against Argentina in Mendoza, we weren’t able to do that. To me, that is an indication we are growing and learning.”

The Bok captain said he was delighted his Western Province team-mate, centre partner Juan de Jongh, had been promoted to the starting line-up.

“He really is a fantastic guy and this is a reward for the determination he has shown this year. I thought that he was the best player in the Currie Cup final and I hope he can carry that form into this game.”

De Villiers said the Boks would lay great emphasis on their discipline after they were heavily penalised in Dublin.

“Our response to the referee [in Dublin] was poor. We need to be a lot more composed this week and sort any misunderstandings with the referee early in the game.”

De Villiers believes that the energy of the young players on tour, combined with the experience of those based overseas, had proved invaluable for the squad.

“Some of the young players haven’t been out of South Africa before, let alone to Europe, and the enthusiasm they have shown has rubbed off on all the players.

“The European-based players, like Francois Louw [flank] and Ruan Pienaar [scrumhalf], have made huge contributions on this trip. Heinke van der Merwe [prop] played an important role in our win last week by getting up for two crucial scrums late in the Test.

“These players had the quality before they left South Africa, but it is clear they’ve learned a lot from playing overseas, particularly in these conditions,” De Villiers said.

“In Ruan’s case, you can see what a difference it has made with a coach who has backed him in one position and allowed him to settle.

“When he was playing in South Africa, he was thrown around in different positions. Now that he is playing regularly at scrumhalf, for Ulster and for us, he has been outstanding. He now has a leadership role. It’s a similar thing with Frans Steyn. He is a totally different player and a far better one.”

Across in the Scottish camp, captain Kelly Brown told reporters that his team can down the Boks again if they improve their defence.

“There’s no doubt it’s possible to beat them,” the 30-year-old said. “We know what happened two years ago. But, in saying that, so do South Africa. They will be looking for a bit of payback and it’s up to us to make sure we really improve.

“We have looked at the video [of the All Black defeat] and we know the areas that we need to work on. We have been doing that in training and I’m very confident we can put it right against the Springboks,” said Brown.

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