The Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday as their got their preparations underway for the tough Southern Hemisphere competition against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
The Springboks open their campaign against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, 16 August. Kick-off is at 17h00.
Apart from medicals, administrative and commercial obligations, which included visa applications and photo shoots, the Springboks also had their first training session on a brilliant late-winter afternoon in Gauteng.
Twenty-nine members of the squad named last Saturday reported to the Palazzo Hotel at Montecasino on Monday, with the final squad member, Schalk Brits, due to arrive on Tuesday.
The Springbok medical team assessed all the players in the squad, paying specific attention to squad members carrying niggles, and calls on the management of certain players will be made in the next day or two.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, who missed the four matches in June due to injury, said the excitement in the squad is palpable in anticipation of what promises to be a very tough Castle Lager Rugby Championship.“I believe Argentina, under new coach Daniel Hourcade, will yet again be a difficult opponent, but we’re not focused on them at this stage,” said Meyer.“The management have worked very hard getting their planning in place for the competition. The most important thing this week for us as players will be to get into game mode as quickly as possible.
“There simply isn’t time to ease into things – the competition starts in less than two weeks in Pretoria and we’ve got to be ready. The Argentineans arrive here on Wednesday and they’ve been preparing for a while now. We have to be at our very best next Saturday.”
The Springboks’ last two visits to Loftus Versfeld under the captaincy of De Villiers were very successful – in 2012 the South Africans beat Australia by 31-8 in the capital city and last year they were too strong for Samoa, scoring eight tries in a 56-23 victory.
“We’ve scored 13 tries in our last two visits to Loftus and it’s something we want to build on,” said the Springbok captain.
“We were obviously very happy with our last two performances there, and the support for the Boks is always good in Pretoria, so we’re hoping we can count on more of the same next weekend.
“But the past will count for nothing if we don’t get out of the blocks well at Loftus. We’ve done our planning and are itching to get onto the field and get going.”
Tickets for the match as well as park-and-ride tickets, available as part of match-day packages, are available at Ticketpros (bulls.ticketpros.co.za).