Peter de Villiers will be able to select from a full squad for Saturday’s Test against Australia at Newlands.
Ruan Pienaar was the only player not considered at King’s Park due to his ankle sprain, but De Villiers told keo.co.za there were no injury concerns among the entire 23-man squad. The Boks will play their third international in a row and De Villiers will have the option of playing Pienaar from the bench, with Morne Steyn retaining the No 10 jersey.
‘The guys returning [from injury] will find it more difficult to get back into the side,’ said De Villiers.
Pienaar’s versatility and game-breaking ability should ensure he wins a spot in the 22 ahead of either Ricky Januarie or Wynand Olivier.
The Boks are pleased with the couple of victories over the All Blacks, but De Villiers acknowledged the Wallabies will provide a sterner tactical test.
‘What we can take from the past is good, but those results won’t influence the future,’ said De Villiers. ‘We know what we want to achieve, but we realise in Australia we face a much more structured unit.
‘They take the ball through the phases and keep possession for longer periods, they probe and look for holes, and have a brilliant backline.’
Australia’s lineout and breakdown expertise will be improved on the All Blacks’, but De Villiers still feels there is a weakness with their scrum.
‘They tend to be negative there,’ he said. ‘At times they’d rather take a penalty than be pushed back.’
The Boks have gained a couple of comprehensive victories, but have scored just three tries in two Tests. When De Villiers first got the Bok job he spoke of adding an attacking dimension to their play, and he said there was still work to be done.
‘If you looked at the scoreboard, we were well ahead, but there is room for improvement. I looked at the video and there were many unforced errors, while some guys didn’t seem as tired as they should have been. Maybe we relaxed a bit,’ he said.
‘The wins weren’t as comfortable as the scoreboard said and there is not much between these three sides. We never said we want to be the perfect side, we just want to be successful and make sure the team does the country proud.
‘Australia will bring a different angle of attack, but we must concentrate on what we want to achieve. If we focus on them, we’ll be lost.’
The visitors will have to do without their coach Robbie Deans until Wednesday as he is attending his father’s funeral in New Zealand, but De Villiers didn’t feel this would negatively impact them.
‘It’s a sad thing, and I send my condolences. I hope Robbie’s mind will be clear when he returns. He is a brilliant coach who has put the structures in place, so they will make do without him. It’s just the same as me, because my team could go on without me as I’ve put the structures in place for the past two weeks,’ said De Villiers.
The Boks conducted a coaching clinic in front of 6000 schoolchildren at the Boland Stadium on Monday morning.
‘This is brilliant, to take the game back to the people,’ said De Villiers. ‘It’s great for them to see their heroes and it means so much to the team that they showed up.’
By Grant Ball, in Wellington