Springbok coach Jake White remains defiant despite distractions in the build-up to the crunch Test against France tomorrow.
At the press conference on the eve of the Newlands Test, White fielded far more contract related questions than rugby related questions.
The issue of White’s Bok contract has bedevilled the build-up during the week, while the injuries to Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha have been cause for alarm.
The Boks were still confident of extending their unbeaten run in South Africa to 14 matches against the Six Nations champions, despite the loss of Burger to a serious neck injury and the withdrawal of a not yet fit Botha.
“It will require an extra effort to beat the French as it always does. I’m sure we won’t be crying ourselves to sleep tonight,” said captain John Smit.
White though said it was all about the Test and continuing the unbeaten sequence on home soil. “We are totally focussed on the game. The French have said through their manager Jo Maso that this is the best possible France side they can put out on the field,” White said.
“I don’t think there is a controversy. I’m very loyal to the Springboks and I have a contract and I’m totally committed to the French Test. I do not want to use this as an excuse. We really want to keep this record going as long as possible.”
The biggest threat from the French would come up front, but White was adamant his team could match them blow for blow in that department. And if they decide to play with some of that French flair the Boks can meet that too.
And for the first time this year the Boks are destined to play in front of a full house. And Newlands was venue of the Boks’ biggest Test victory last year. White is hoping for a repeat performance.
By Andrew Hollely, in Cape Town