Nick Mallett was warned his World XV players to have the right attitude when they run out against the Springboks in Saturday’s international friendly at Newlands.
Speaking in Cape Town on Tuesday, former Springbok coach Mallett said he told his players at a de-briefing that they would be in for a “very unpleasant afternoon” if they did not approach the match in the right frame of mind. Mallett said sound preparation was a hallmark of Heyneke Meyer’s coaching career over the years. He said Meyer and his coaching staff, whether coaching the Springboks or the Bulls, always paid attention to all aspects of the game and opponents who were not sufficiently prepared, were punished severely.
“There are some wonderful classy rugby players in the World XV group but it is not about talent,” said Mallett. “We all know they can play. Everything hinges on the right attitude. This is a good team but in the Springboks we’re up against the second best team in the world.” Mallett said although the match was a friendly he expected his team to give a good account of themselves. “As the coach I want to appeal to the fact that these players will not want to embarrass themselves, or be humiliated,” said Mallett. “It’s one of those funny sort of games because the players will have a relaxed week but they will retain a strong focus. They will have to be prepared to put their body on the line.”
Mallett said he warned his charges that the Springboks can be ruthless. “South Africa is very good at punishing you and they have run up huge scores when opponents were not up to scratch,” Mallett said. “They (World XV players) have a responsibility to perform and if they don’t they will be in for a very unpleasant afternoon – and they can also get hurt.” Mallett has coached World XV and Barbarians sides before and he said the big challenge was to prepare a team in a matter of a few days.
“Some of the players are only arriving on Wednesday so they will only be on-lookers at training tomorrow,” said Mallett. “They just need to know our strategies. I will be trying to make it a competitive game. Some have never played with each other before and they speak different languages.” Hosea Gear, one of the in-form World XV players, is hoping to use the match to improve his chances of a recall to the New Zealand Test team. Last week Gear scored two tries in the Barbarians’ 39-29 win over an England XV at Twickenham and he is keen to make the All Blacks squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The 13-times capped All Black said he was leaving French club Toulouse to play a season in Japan for Honda before taking up a Super Rugby contract in New Zealand early next year.
“We are here to enjoy ourselves after a long season but we’ll do our best,” said the 30-year-old winger. The 23-year-old Wallaby wing James O’Connor said he was pleased to be playing at Newlands because it was the kind of game that attracted interest around the world. “Playing on this stage is what all (rugby) people see and I’m pushing my case forward to get a look in again (for Australia’s Test team),” said O’Connor. “Coming from different teams, we play various styles of rugby but all Southern Hemisphere teams all have the same mindset.
“We will want to enjoy ourselves but we won’t let ourselves down. I am playing for my pride, my family and my team on the day.”
Source: Planet Rugby