Springbok coach Jake White has a proud unbeaten record on home soil. And he is not about to let that slip against the World XV tomorrow.
“The law of averages will dictate that we will eventually lose at home,” White said at Friday’s press conference. “But we are working hard to maintain that record for as long as we can. A defeat against the World XV is not an option.”
Stand-in captain Jean de Villiers says everything has gone according to plan. “The preparation this week has been very good. Although it is not official, we are approaching this match as if it is a Test. The only thing that has changed is the captain,” grinned de Villiers.
The Boks are favourites to beat an experienced, but ageing World XV at Ellis Park tomorrow, which will provide a fantastic launching pad for the more important assignments later this month. Two Tests against Scotland should be easily negotiated, before the crunch June fixture against a full-strength France in Cape Town.
The altitude is also expected to be a major factor for the team that was thumped 46-19 by England last weekend.
The team that runs out at Ellis Park is likely to change dramatically by the time the Boks take on France, especially with several first-choice players due back from injury.
However, the team de Villiers leads out tomorrow has exactly 400 Test caps between them – and they are considered a second-string outfit. When White started his career as Bok coach against Ireland in Bloemfontein in 2004, the team that gave him an opening 31-17 win had just 179 caps.
It illustrates just how far the Boks have come under White’s guidance.
By Andrew Hollely