Juan has the 'attitude' to be a Bok
Fri, 16 Nov 2012 15:16
Hopefully we'll get a big one from him on Saturday
Juan de Jongh has all the attributes to be a really good Springbok centre, according to his captain and midfield partner Jean de Villiers.
De Jongh will make his first Test start of the year when South Africa face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday and De Villiers is convinced his 24-year-old teammate will finally convince the remaining doubters of his ability to be an international centre.
The Western Province Currie Cup-winning star will have started in only five of his previous 12 Test appearance, his last at inside centre in the 7-40 loss to New Zealand in Wellington last year.
On Saturday he is back in his preferred position at No.13, with De Villiers on his inside, and the Bok skipper said he is now a far more mature player than the one that struggled to cope with Test rugby in previous seasons.
"I think he is a fantastic player," De Villiers said, when asked about De Jongh at his usual Friday captain's media conference.
"The determination that he showed this year, his attitude throughout everything and his willingness to learn and work hard to get to the top is fantastic," the Boks skipper told the gathering in Edinburgh.
"Now he gets the opportunity," De Villiers said, adding: "He is a special player.
"In the Currie Cup Final he was my outstanding player of the day and I feel he has matured a lot over year.
"Hopefully we'll get a big one from him on Saturday."
De Villiers said there is no chance of the Boks underestimating the Scots, despite the home team having conceded 51 points in a hammering at the hands of the All Blacks last week.
He pointed to a scenario that played out two years ago, during South Africa's last Northern Hemisphere tour.
The Boks had also beaten Ireland in their opening match of the trip, while the Kiwis had scored 49 points against the hapless Scots.
A week later Scotland upstaged South Africa 21-17 at a wet and windy Murrayfield.
De Villiers made reference to that tour and match, when asked how the Boks will motivate themselves for Saturday's outing.
"I have a different view," the Boks skipper told the media gathering, adding: "How do you get up for a team that beat you the last time you played them?
"It is pretty easy [to be motivated]. For us, as a team, it is not always who you play against, but what you want to achieve in the game.
"Every time you get the opportunity to play in a Test you must be up for it.
"Take nothing away from Scotland, they re a good team and we won't underestimate them."
While very few of the current squad were involved in that dreary day at Murrayfield, De Villiers said it is still a factor to be considered.
"You have to be conscious of the fact of what happened the last time we played them and then you must be prepared for what you will face tomorrow [Saturday].
"Our attitude on tour, this time round, has been we want to improve as a squad and as a team.
"We want to be focussing on what we need to improve on.
"If you look at last week's game [a 16-12 win over Ireland], there's still a lot for us to improve on, to be able to consistently be a good team," he said.
Asked how important last week's win, the Boks' first away victory for 2012, was as a mental hurdle to overcome, De Villiers spoke of the team's second half performance.
After trailing 3-12, they kept the Irish scoreless in the second half to win the game.
"The fact that we really came back nicely after half-time and played well," he said, adding: "The response that the team showed, from what was asked at half-time, that was really pleasing.
"II do feel we were in exactly the same situation in Mendoza and the same response wasn't there.
"Just the way the guys talked on the field and the positive energy that was there this time around.
"People might laugh [when I say this], but I think we did make a step up last week."
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