Injuries delay Bok team announcement

Peter de Villiers will only announce his match 22 on Thursday because Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw are carrying niggles.

Reports from Auckland indicate that Botha and Rossouw are both nursing knee injuries. They should be able to train on Tuesday, but the coaching staff want to give them more time before finalising their team.

Skipper John Smit said caution is the correct decision before deciding on a match 22.

‘They are two good players. Any change in the tight five would have an effect on how you play. But we have been lucky enough to play without either of them in the lead up to the Tri-Nations and it has run pretty smoothly so far,’ said Smit. ‘We feel we have guys to take their place.’

If the pair is ruled out, De Villiers will be forced to start Victor Matfield and Andries Bekker, two No 5 locks, in tandem.

Meanwhile, Smit acknowledged the difficulty of the challenge that lies ahead.

‘The All Blacks are going to be as competitive as they were last year, if not more so because of the fact that they didn’t win it last year,’ he said.

‘They are the team that has won the Tri-Nations the most out of all three of us. Not winning it really irritates them. I’m pretty sure they are going to rock up pretty worked up and ready to go on Saturday.’

The Springboks have not beaten the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1937 and Smit conceded that it was a massive task to break that cycle of defeat.

‘You try and come with the best you have got and you certainly try to stick to your strengths. If you can do that and manage to get a few things right … that hasn’t been done for a long time because it is such a big challenge. So we are certainly up against it on Saturday,’ he said.

Much has been made of the psychological boost of winning in New Zealand would be ahead of the 2011 World Cup to be hosted in that country, but Smit was having none of it.

‘For us to get too wrapped up in the World Cup now would be a bit foolish. We have a three-week campaign that takes us halfway through the Tri-Nations and they are three important games because we haven’t had much success in Brisbane (against Australia) either,’ he said. ‘It will be the lessons learnt that will help us towards the next World Cup.’