Durban – The Springboks will approach Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Durban as if it is a World Cup final, according to coach Jacques Nienaber, who adds that the team’s focus is on winning the game and not worrying about permutations to win the title.
Early on Saturday, New Zealand host Australia in Auckland, and then it is the turn of the Boks and the Pumas at Kings Park. By the time the South Africans and Argentinians kick off at 5.05pm, they will know exactly what is required in terms of log points or points difference, but Nienaber says the Boks are not getting ahead of themselves.
“I don’t even want to think about scoring a certain number of points,” Nienaber said. “That would be completely disrespectful to Argentina. They are hoping Australia beat New Zealand to give them an opportunity to win the Rugby Championship for the first time in their history.
“So, let’s not get caught up in permutations … We will get to that when the facts are on the table.
“We are viewing it as a World Cup final: that is what it is to us.
The only thing I can say is that it will help us that the other game is first, so both teams will know what is required, but I can tell you we will start the game as if it is a final.”
“If that happens, we should be in a position to win the game, and if things (permutations) go our way, the Rugby Championship.”
In the Boks’ way is a Pumas team that scared the life out of them in the second half last week. At one point in the second half, Argentina closed the score to 22-20 before the Boks pulled away to win 36-20.
“They are a proper Test team,” Nienaber pointed out. “Look at the experience in their pack – the locks have 70-plus Tests each; the front row averages more than 50 caps. They know what Test rugby is all about, and they are building to a World Cup under a very good coaching staff.”
Nienaber was speaking at a press conference where he confirmed
Frans Steyn will start at flyhalf for the injured Damian Willemse.
Steyn coolly closed out the Boks’ over the Pumas last week after Willemse left the field with a concussion, and instead of looking outside the squad for a replacement No 10, Nienaber has elected to let Steyn pick up in Durban where he left off in Buenos Aires.
“Frans Steyn is Damian Willemse, just with 70 caps more and 10 more years’ experience,” Nienaber said after mostly opting for consistency in selection from last week’s team to this one.
There is just the forced change at flyhalf among the backs, while up front there’s a notable change at blindside flank, where Pieter-Steph du Toit is recalled for Franco Mostert.