Day of the heavyweights

2014-09-13 00:00

RUGBY fans across the world wait for months each year for the All Blacks and the Springboks to lock horns and the time is now upon us.

The heavyweights of world rugby clash in Wellington this morning in a match that is potentially the decider of the 2014 Rugby Championship.

Springbok stalwart Victor Matfield is confident that the Boks have put in enough work this week to get the job done.

“It’s been a short week as we only arrived here on Monday. All the preparation is done. It’s a big game for us — a do-or-die game in this championship. I see the weather is coming in so it’s time for the game,” he said.

Surprisingly, after coming off a loss, the mood in the camp rings with a steely resolve that the Boks can beat the All Blacks in their back yard for the first time since 2009.

“There are quite a few guys in this team who have beaten New Zealand in New Zealand. A guy like Handré [Pollard] has beaten the U21 All Blacks twice in the space of two weeks here. I think there is really a belief we can go out and do well. We know it’s not going to be easy, it is a huge task but we know if we go out there and play the way we can and want to, there will be opportunities,” Matfield said.

If fans are excited, it could be said that Matfield is even more so. He spoke of his passion for playing big games and what they mean in the bigger scheme of things.

“When people ask why I came back, I first say for the World Cup and then games like these. Once we get to the bigger games I am always excited to play them. It will be a huge game and I will be up for it,” he said.

The Bok lineout king believes there will be an interesting contest in the line-outs, but conceded that the loss of All Black lock Sam Whitelock could hurt the New Zealanders.

“I think he [Whitelock] is a very good lock. Alongside Brody Retalick, he is definitely their best lock. It will have an impact, although Kieran Read is calling the line-outs. They’ve still got him and if he wasn’t there, it might have been a different kettle of fish,” said Matfield.

It is also a momentous occasion for Springbok Captain Jean de Villiers. He runs out to earn his 100th cap for the Boks and is the fifth South African to do so.

Kickoff is at 9.35 am today, at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

The match is on SuperSport 1 from 8.30 am.

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