Matfield's message: Show your worth
Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:01
It is the last game before the Rugby Championship
Victor Matfield has a simple message to all the rookies in the Springbok team: 'Show you deserve to be there!'
Matfield, speaking at the captain's media briefing ahead of South Africa's one-off Test against Scotland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, said it was not a young Springbok side going out on Saturday, it is "the Springbok side".
SA Under-20 captain Handré Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in the Boks' match-23.
The other four uncapped players are on a new-look bench - Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf).
Matfield said while the team was brimming with debutantes nothing less than the best would be expected of the side on Saturday.
"They've been in the system for four weeks and now they have to show what they can do," he told the media briefing in PE
"It is a great opportunity for those guys.
"We have had a big squad for the last four weeks, now they get their opportunity and they must show what they can do.
"It is also a great opportunity for coach Heyneke [Meyer] to see what they can do and for these guys to challenge for a starting berth."
Matfield said it is great to see that enthusiasm of the newcomers.
"The young players just want to go, so sometimes you have to slow them down and say let's be accurate."
Speaking about the opposition, Matfield said Scotland always provide South African with a tough Test.
"They come out with a lot of heart," he said, adding: "The breakdown is always important for them.
"For us it is the last game before the [Rugby] Championship, so we need to fire on Saturday."
The greatest responsibility would rest on the shoulders of the youngest member of the team, Handre Pollard, making his senior debut.
The 20-year-old had graduated from the SA Under-20 side after three years as a loyal and prominent servant at the Junior World Championship.
Only a week after representing the country at the JWC final against England in New Zealand, he had been thrust into the limelight to stake a claim for the Springboks.
Playing with a maturity that belied his young age, Pollard could be taking his first steps towards winning a place in next year's world cup squad.
While incumbent flyhalf Morné Steyn seemed to have cemented his place, Meyer was yet to find an understudy.
The youngster's stellar rise to prominence had been predicted and it would not be unreasonable to suggest Pollard could become South Africa's flyhalf at the rugby showpiece.
Speaking of the flyhalf prodigy, Matfield believed Pollard had the right temperament to play at international level.
"Handre is a very mature guy. He will probably be nervous but you will never see it from him," Matfield said.
"He is a confident person and he has Jan Serfontein, who he played with at the SA Under-20 and Fourie du Preez on his inside with a lot experience.
"It is a big day for him and I hope he comes through with distinction. I think he is a brilliant player that could in future mean a lot to South Africa."
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