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Rugby | Springboks

Jean de Villiers © Gallo Images

Jean hasn’t forgotten last time



Springbok captain Jean de Villiers says the defeat to Scotland the last time they were here in Edinburgh in 2010 should be sufficient motivation for his team to avoid the complacency bogey in Saturday’s big match at Murrayfield.

Asked at the captain’s press conference on the eve of the match how hard it was for his men to get themselves up for a game against the ninth ranked team in the world when they were ranked second, De Villiers said that the rankings were not what the Boks were thinking about.

“The way we are looking it is that the last time we were here we lost, we’re not thinking of the difference in the ranking points,” said De Villiers.

“How do you underestimate or struggle to get yourselves up against a team that you lost to the last time you played them on their field? For us this is a game against opponents that we respect because the last time we played against them, we lost to them.”

De Villiers was emphatic that the Boks are not looking at next week’s big match of the tour against England at Twickenham at this stage, and are treating Scotland as a challenge all on their own.

“With respect to Scotland, it is all about what you want to achieve out of a game and the targets you set yourselves. We know we have to be up for this test. Scotland are a test team and we respect them. I’ve been in bed for a few days with flu, so I haven’t been addressing the players, but we do have to be conscious of what happened last time we were here.

“But overall we want to just improve as a team. That is what is important for us. I felt last week that we came back nicely against Ireland after halftime, and in the same situation against Argentina in Mendoza we weren’t able to do that. To me that is an indication we are growing and learning. This game is not about looking at Twickenham, we will worry about that next week.”

De Villiers is looking forward to teaming up with regular Stormers centre partner Juan de Jongh in the Murrayfield match.

“I am very pleased for Juan, he really is a fantastic guy and this is reward for the determination he has shown,” said the captain.

“I thought that he was the best player in the Currie Cup final, and he has run into good form. He was the stand-out player on the day, and hopefully he can carry that on into this game.”

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ENERGY OF YOUTH

De Villiers has instructed his men to be more disciplined in this game than they were in Ireland.

“We really messed it up for ourselves with our poor discipline before halftime in Dublin, and our response to the referee was poor. We need to be a lot more composed this week. Any frustrations or misunderstandings of the referee have to be sorted out early in the game.”

The Boks have come to Europe with an inexperienced squad in comparison with some that have toured to the northern hemisphere, and there are a lot of young players who have not been here before. However De Villiers believes the energy of youth has been a driving force for his team on the tour.

“They bring extra energy that rubs off on the other players. Some of the players haven’t been out of South Africa before, let alone to Europe, and the enthusiasm they show both for the rugby and for getting out and seeing the sights and experiencing all there is to experience in a great city like Edinburgh has been pleasing. It was good in Dublin last week too.”

What helps though, he said, is that there is a core of experienced players now who are either still playing in Europe or have experienced playing in Europe.

“The European based players have made a great contribution. Someone like Francois Louw has made a huge contribution on this trip. And Heinke van der Merwe played an important role in our win last week by getting up for two crucial scrums. There are also those of us who have played club rugby here at some stage.

“Obviously I am not going to encourage the players in my team to go out and do it now, but I would recommend that all players get to experience playing in Europe at some stage. It is an opportunity that needs to be taken and there is a pay-back for South African rugby in the sense that those players return with experience they rub off on the other players.”

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