Jannie du Plessis played in only one of the South African rugby team’s European tour matches last year, but the tighthead prop is as determined as the rest of the front row to correct the errors that played a huge part in the team’s poor showing.
The Springboks face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday in the first of five matches on their Grand Slam tour.
“It is always important to have a good scrumming tour,” Du Plessis said. “Unfortunately, last year we did not perform to our ability, but sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone.
“We are not going on this tour disillusioned and we are expecting the best in the world. We will be prepared and I believe that we will play well.”
Du Plessis, loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle were forced to return home because of injuries before they could put their specialist talents to good use last year, and the results were devastating for the Boks.
Without a solid platform these players are known to lay up front, it was only a matter of time before the squad’s speedsters felt the effects against teams more concerned about coming out tops in the tight facets of the game than playing expansive rugby.
Du Plessis insisted they would go on tour this time with the intention of reclaiming the respect he felt they deserved from their cold-weather counterparts.
“It is never nice thinking back that we didn’t perform well, and I think if you are going to dwell on your failures you won’t be able to get better and progress,” he said. “Like Victor (Matfield) said, there are a few ‘old new guys’ like Bizzy (Bismarck du Plessis), and they bring a new breeze into the side.
“We just want to take it forward and whenever we get on to the field we want to play well and earn the respect,” he said.
Other “old new faces” in the squad include centre Adriaan Jacobs, lock Bakkies Botha and flank Juan Smith, who have all played key roles in some of the best Springbok victories in recent times.
“The Tri-Nations wasn’t good and there are a lot of players who want to go out there and show what they can do and what they still have in them,” said Matfield, who will captain the touring side.
“Then there are some old new faces coming in, like Bizzy, who can really make a difference.
“This is a really important tour for us, so we need that energy and we need to be successful on this tour.”