Dewald Potgieter won’t dare to dream of a Test debut until the dirt-trackers have revived the Bok tour with a win over Saracens.
Schalk Burger has until Thursday to recover from a rib cartillage injury and did not take contact in Monday’s training session. Jean Deysel ran with the senior side which suggests he could feature against Italy on Saturday, but there is also a chance Potgieter will stay with the Boks when the dirt-trackers return to South Africa.
Coach Peter de Villiers is yet decide just how many players will stay with the touring party in the build up to Italy and Ireland, and so every player in that midweek side will be out to prove a point against Saracens.
Named captain because of the injury to Chiliboy Ralepelle, Potgieter believes it’s the wrong approach. If the Bok second-string can win at Wembley, the senior team will benefit from the resultant momentum.
‘It’s definitely a good opportunity for me as a player, but we’re focused on getting the win because it’s important to the squad as a whole. You can’t worry about individual ambition, you have to do your job and beat Saracens.
‘If we manage that, we would have done our part, and then it’s up to the coaches to decide whether we should stay or not.’
The midweek side was embarrassed by a depleted Leicester in the first tour fixture. Potgieter admitted they need to lift their showing at the breakdown and scrum, but it won’t be easy against a formidable Saracens outfit packed with South Africans.
‘We were very disappointed with that performance against Leicester. Peter said to us before the tour, “Every team will be coming for you because you are wearing the Springbok jersey”. We heard it, but we didn’t really understand it until we were on the pitch.
‘Every team is going to play their game of the year to beat us and we realise that now. It’s difficult to get to the top, but you have to work harder than you ever did just to ensure you stay there.’
The versatile loose forward captained the Emerging Springboks in their 13-13 draw with the British & Irish Lions, and has led the Blue Bulls at Currie Cup level. To skipper the Boks, even in their dirt-tracking guise, is a dream come true.
‘I’m enjoying captaining the team, it’s a huge privilege. I’m also looking forward to playing at Wembley Stadium.’
Potgieter is another player who feels the South Africans were let down by the anthem singer in Toulouse. He laughed when spoke of Bryan Habana and Wynand Olivier downloading the debacle on youtube, and is grateful that it won’t be a factor on Tuesday.
‘It’s a huge part of the game for us South Africans. There will be any national anthems for us in this game, so we won’t have to worry about it. We have to focus now on improving our performance on the pitch.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in London