Boks out to show what they're capable of
“The time has come for this Springbok team to show the rest of the world just what they are capable of.”
That is the message from Springbok captain Jean de Villiers as he mapped out exactly what he wants to see from his side as they prepare to face their destiny in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship showdown against the World Champion All Blacks at Ellis Park.
While much of the focus this week has been on whether or not the Springboks can still win the championship – they need to score four tries and deny New Zealand any sort of bonus point in winning on Saturday – De Villiers sees the game more as a continuation of the process that started 18 months ago under coach Heyneke Meyer.
And while it is a massive game for the Springboks, they simply want to show South Africa – and the rest of the rugby world – what they are capable of.
Saturday’s challenge presents a massive task for the team, but they know if they can cross the hurdle of beating the All Blacks, it will be the perfect cap on a very successful season thus far.
“It’s a big game. Even before the previous one at Eden Park we knew that. I think we as a team we know where we are going, what we want to achieve. We know where we are as a squad, and it is time we showed what we are capable of,” De Villiers said.
“I think the hard work has been done now. We’ve been together for nine weeks now and the squad has grown so much in stature. Just look at the last 16 months how we’ve grown and improved, the way we have played. It all comes down to tomorrow’s game.
“It’s always massive and this one definitely rates up there with finals rugby. You probably go World Cup final, British and Irish Lions and this game, those are very special games and this is why we play rugby.
“You take part in competitions to win them. We know what is expected of us tomorrow to win the competition and we will go out to do our best, and let’s see what happens.”
De Villiers said that the resolve shown in the second half in Auckland – being down to 14 men, but ultimately only losing the second half 12-5 – showed the fight that is in his team.
While previous teams have crumbled when losing a player, the Boks soldiered on and gave a good account of themselves, managing to keep the scoreline down despite being at a disadvantage in terms of numbers.
De Villiers said the lessons that were learnt in the Auckland game showed just how determined the team was.
“You learn a lot from your fellow teammates in a situation like that, because it is easy to give up then,” he explained.
“When we went down to 14 men, that game in 2002 in England when we got red-carded and lost by 50 came to mind. I was just thinking I don’t want to be part of something like that.
“That was the feeling in the team and the guys stuck to it, and we kept on fighting to the end.
“We may not have won the game, but I thought we gained a lot by how we finished that game.”
Still, what counts for De Villiers and his teammates is to put it all together on Saturday at Ellis Park. They have had a great season thus far, but they also know that the 80 minutes that await will tell them very much where they are in the modern game.
And exactly what they are capable of.