Vickerman warns of Bok backlash

Wallaby second row forward Dan Vickerman, who grew up in South Africa and is familiar with the cultures of that country, has warned of a Springbok backlash when the two teams go head-to-head in a vital Tri-Nations encounter in Sydney on Saturday.

The three teams – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – are level on five points at the halfway mark of the competition, following Australia’s first defeat of the All Blacks in three years (20-15 in Melbourne at the weekend).

 

However, the Wallabies top the standings with a points differential of +2, followed by the All Blacks on 0 and the Boks on -2.

Vickerman, who like wing Clyde Rathbone left for Australia after representing South Africa at Under-21 level, said he is expecting a “combative and fiery” clash.

He disagreed with the Australian media, who have dismissed the Springboks as no-hopers – after Bok coach Jake White decided to leave 20-odd of his top players at home for reconditioning and recovery from injury.

“The Springbok team is a very proud rugby team,” Vickerman said.

“Any team they put on the park is always going to be a hard physical game,” he added.

“You know how the Springboks are going to play. All their teams are the same: physical, combative and they pride themselves in their set piece.”

Vickerman said by beating the All Blacks the Wallabies had rediscovered the steely backbone needed to grind out close games.

“It shows we can win the tight matches. In the last few years we have unfortunately let those tight matches slip away.

“But we don’t want to get carried away. That is one win. We still have to win a couple of more games if we want to win the Tri-Nations.”

All three Tri-Nations games so far have been won by a team fighting back and clinching it in the final 10 minutes. The winning margin has also not been more than five points.

“That shows you have to be on your guard for 80 minutes,” Vickerman said.

 

365 Digital

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