‘B-Team’ Boks aim for Tri-Nations glory

Australia’s come-from-behind victory over New Zealand at the weekend has opened the back door for South Africa in the 2007 Tri-Nations race, but there’s another reason why Bob Skinstad and his Springbok charges are keen to tackle the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday.

Last week Bok coach Jake White told the Australian media they are doing a good job of motivating his team by writing them off.

At the weekend his new captain, Skinstad, echoed similar sentiments when he revealed that the team is determined make the Aussies eat their words.

“It is not as if we need the extra motivation, but it certainly helps,” Skinstad said when asked about his team being dismissed as no-hopers.

“No doubt the way we are being dismissed in the newspapers over here [in Australia] is as much motivation as any of us will ever need,” he added.

However, the lure of places in White’s World Cup squad is another big motivation for the tourists.

“There are 28 players in this group and [as the Bok coach said] there are about 10 places available in the World Cup squad. No doubt the players will be playing out of their skins,” Skinstad said.

Skinstad, standing in for regular Bok captain John Smit (one of the 20-odd players left back in South Africa for reconditioning and recovery), is under no illusion as to the enormity of the task ahead.

New Zealand and Australia, on their home soil, are enormous mountains to climb and his group has had very little time to gel as a cohesive unit.

However, the 31-year-old Skinstad is confident that his team will overcome even these hurdles.

“I’m not really concerned about a lack of cohesion. The structures of our set pieces [scrums and line-outs] stay basically the same, so it won’t be a problem,” he said.

Bok coach Jake White is now also dreaming of Tri-Nations glory, despite his public statements that he left 20-odd players at home because the World Cup is more important than the Tri-Nations.

“We are back in the race,” he said of the Wallabies’ 20-15 Tri-Nations victory over the All Blacks at the weekend – which has all three teams are level on five points at the halfway mark of the competition.

However, the Wallabies top the standings with a points differential of +2, followed by the All Blacks on ) and the Boks on -2.

“This certainly puts a new perspective on the World Cup,” White said of Australia’s win in Melbourne at the weekend.

“You know you can’t just turn up and expect to win games. At this level [international rugby] there’s such a small margin for error.

“I knew in Durban already that the All Blacks can be beaten,” White said of his team’s 26-21 Tri-Nations loss a week earlier.

“Another vital aspect is that all three Tri-Nations games this year were only decided in the final 10 minutes, which shows just how close the teams are,” White added.

 

365 Digital

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