Boks geared for 'hostile reception'

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 22:21

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks' previous visit to Salta was an intimidating affair. rugby365 brings you the latest from the Bok camp.

South Africa are expecting another hostile reception when they arrive in the provincial capital in mountainous northwestern Argentina for Saturday's Rugby Championship showdown with the Pumas.

Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan has first-hand experience of the venue surrounded by barbed wire to keep the hostile crowd at bay.

Speaking ahead of the Round Two match, Van Graan drew a number of parallels with the Boks' 2014 visit to Salta, when they escaped with a fortuitous 33-31 win - when South Africa were trailing five times in the match, at one stage by 12 points, and the winning score came in  the 77th minute.

Van Graan pointed out that in 2014 the Boks had scored a narrow 13-6 win over the Pumas at a rain-drenched Loftus Versfeld in the opening match of the tournament and were then forced to battle hard in the return fixture for the win.

This past weekend they had to come from behind in a wet Nelspruit before recording a 30-23 win, the winning points coming in the dying moments of the match.

And the travel to Argentina has not made it easier - the Boks having arrived late on Monday night in Buenos Aires, where they will be based until Friday in the build-up to the second Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas.

Tuesday involved gymnasium work and a thorough review of the win in Nelspruit. They will have their first field session on Wednesday.

"We will have two pretty hard days on Wednesday and Thursday," Van Graan said.

But it is the conditions in Salta that are likely to be more testing than the travel schedule.

"The last time we played them here we had a wet Test at Loftus Versfeld the week before and came into desert-like conditions in Salta," the Bok assistant said.

"The Test in Nelspruit was pretty wet and we will have very dry conditions in Salta. The prediction is for a hot, dry day and it should be a quick field.

"But the playing conditions will be the same for both teams and we will adapt to it.

"It is a very hostile and intimidating environment, with the barbed wire around the field.

"It is a fascinating place to play.

"The Argentinean people are passionate about their team and the field is a bit smaller.

"The last time the fire brigade came out to spray water in the people to cool them down."

Springbok team doctor Jerome Mampane said he was happy with the overall condition of the squad.

"The players rested well from the travelling schedule and they have undertaken a couple of recovery activities on Tuesday," Mampane said.

"Everyone is fine at the moment, ready to resume field training on Wednesday."

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will name his matchday 23 on Wednesday.

@rugby365com

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