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A 'new ballgame' for Boks

Sun, 29 Sep 2013 15:28
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It is a sold out Ellis Park, a lot has happened in the past at that stadium
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The Springboks will need to produce their best performance of the year if they are to take the Rugby Championship title at Ellis Park.

Whilst South Africa missed out on a bonus point in their 28-8 win against Australia at Newlands, New Zealand had no such issues against Argentina in La Plata, with a last-minute try giving them a crucial five-point cushion heading into the deciding match in Johannesburg on Saturday.

This means that the if the visitors secure just one bonus point at Ellis Park they will retain the Rugby Championship title, so nothing less than a comprehensive victory over the best team in the world will do for the Boks to take the title for the first time since 2009.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said that his team are happy to have given themselves a chance of winning the competition, although it will require their best performance this season.

"Next week is a totally new ballgame against a quality side, the best team in the world and we have got the opportunity to play them at Ellis Park against a sold-out crowd, what more could you ask for?

"We are still in this competition, we have got an opportunity now and that is a great thing. We have won four out of five games in the Rugby Championship and it comes down to the last game and we would like to win that one as well," he said.

De Villiers said that the opportunity to test themselves against the All Blacks at a venue where the world champions have not won since 1997 is more exciting than intimidating.

"We are really looking forward to that game and like I said we want to test ourselves against the best.

"It is a sold out Ellis Park, a lot has happened in the past at that stadium, so hopefully we have a good week and we can put up a good performance," he said.

Although much has been made of the circumstances surrounding their defeat to the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland, coach Heyneke Meyer said that his team will most definitely not be motivated by revenge in the big play-off.

Meyer said that the Boks have put that result behind them and have only respect for the All Blacks and what they are capable of.

"For the players it is not a revenge game, I have got the utmost respect for the All Blacks and their coaching staff and there is a big respect from both teams.

"There is no revenge in that, we weren't good enough on the day there and things happened that weren't in our control, so we have just got to go out there and that is the great thing about this team, we don't play on emotion," he said.

Meyer pointed out that this match will give him a good indication of where they currently stand in their quest to reach the top of world rugby.

"We have got very high standards, we want to be the best team in the world and win the World Cup and we know exactly what we have to do.

"Next week is going to be a big test, and if you look at the previous championship we lost against Australia away and drew with Argentina so I really believe there is a lot of improvement and I want to see a lot of improvement against the All Blacks as well.

"Obviously we want to win the game, it would be great to win the championship and we are in with a chance but we don't talk about revenge games," he said.

Although the task ahead of them is significant, the requirements are very clear-cut for the Boks, victory alone will not be enough to take the title - they will need a dominant performance to do that.

However, any win against the All Blacks will be significant regardless of the margin and will represent serious progress from where they were last year, no matter who lifts the trophy.

By Michael de Vries

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