Battle of extremes at Ellis Park

Saturday’s Vodacom Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies at Ellis Park will bring the curtain down on the longest international season ever.

It brings together two teams with vastly different factors working against them. The Springboks face fatigue when they play their third Test in three weeks, while the Wallabies are rested because they haven’t played since August 19.

On the flip side, the Boks have momentum behind them having beaten the All Blacks in Phokeng last weekend, while the visitors will probably be a little rusty – and both are playing at altitude.

So who will have the advantage on Saturday?

“I suppose the only way I can really answer that is on Saturday night,” White told keo.co.za. “It’s difficult. For me it is a crazy draw,” he said. “We played one game in five weeks, Australia have had three weeks off. We played five weeks away from home. It is such a difficult thing to work out.”

“Our two best Test matches we played (in the Tri-Nations) are where we played two weeks in-a-row at altitude and maybe the fifth week on tour against Australia in Sydney. So again that goes completely against the grain because people would say you are at the end of a five week tour and are probably at your worst.

“It will be interesting whether the Wallabies are sharp in terms of match time or whether they are going to be better because they have had time off to get all their bumps and bruises all 100%.”

Saturday’s match will be the fifth extra match some of the Bok players will have played this year in a schedule that last year was already being lamented as too congested. Two extra Vodacom Super 14 matches, a World XV game and two additional Tri-Nations games means that instead of the usual 18 matches, most players will be playing their 23rd game, with some Bulls players having played 24 after featuring in the Super 14 semi-final.

“There is no doubt in my mind (we play too much rugby) just look at the mere fact that I have CJ out, Os is carrying an injury, Gurthro is out, Bakkies is out, Schalk’s out, Jean was out, Joe was out, Danie Rossouw has been out. That just shows you the impact this sort of level has.”

“And again, Mat Rogers has been ruled out with a knee injury. It is a tough competition and when you play Super 14 and Tri-Nations rugby it is very difficult to get up every single Saturday and have a full strength squad.”

The mood in the squad though is positive and the players are determined to get up for one last hurrah before taking a well-deserved break.

By Andrew Hollely