Jean de Villiers believes the Springboks have plenty to work on if they want to achieve victory over the Wallabies in Perth this Saturday.
The Boks have endured an inconsistent start to the Rugby Championship, beating Argentina 27-6 in Cape Town before being held to a 16-16 draw in Mendoza. Their next opponents, the Wallabies, were dominated in their opening Tests against the All Blacks as they were beaten 27-19 in Sydney before going down 22-0 in Auckland.
Both teams have been criticised for these performances, creating plenty of pressure ahead of this weekend’s Rugby Championship Test Down Under.
Bok skipper De Villiers said his team enjoyed a good week of preparation, but stressed that they will need to improve if they are to beat the Wallabies – a side they have only beaten once over the last seven encounters.
‘Preparations in Perth have been good,’ De Villiers said on Friday. ‘We weren’t happy with our last performance against Argentina. We have a lot to work on. While the preparations have gone well, the trick will be implementing those plans for the full 80 minutes on Saturday.
‘I don’t think we can read too much into the Wallabies’ defeats to the All Blacks. They were up against a quality side, who are ranked No 1 in the world and are the World Cup winners. The Wallabies still showed a lot of positives over those two Tests.
‘Over the last seven games, we have only beaten them once. And that says a bit. Both teams will have a point to prove on Saturday, and we will go out to do that.’
However, De Villiers noted that victory in Perth won’t be easy. Despite the loss of hooker Stephen Moore (hamstring), he believed there were several other players who will be expected to play a big role for the hosts.
‘The Wallabies won’t be weakened by the loss of Stephen Moore. They have three world-class hookers, and Tatafu Polota-Nau and Saia Faingaa provide quality back-up. [Lock] Nathan Sharpe also brings a lot to that team up front, and the guys around him will make an impact … like [openside flank] Michael Hooper, who has the abilities to change the game.
‘The Wallabies are a skilled team. As as a backline, they are difficult to play against. On attack, they are very good and they are defensively solid. We need to up our game if we want to win.’
This weekend’s Bok match 22 will have a different look compared to the last one that faced the Wallabies – an 11-9 World Cup quarter-final defeat in October 2011. There’s a huge loss of experience, especially among the forwards, but De Villiers believes the young players will use this opportunity to prove they deserve a starting place.
‘In the pack of forwards, we have about 112 Test caps,’ said De Villiers. ‘Last year, we had John Smit, who had played in 111 Tests, and Victor Matfield, who had played 110 Tests. So there is a big difference in terms of experience.
‘But the guys who have come in have done really well. This is a new Springbok team, and this is an opportunity for players to put up hand and stake a claim for position in the side. The guys have realised that.’