Pretoria - Forget the high score, forget the bonus point, all the Springboks seek is to execute with precision and to earn victory.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers did not stray on Friday from the mantra that the Springboks have spewed all week long ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.
The Springboks seem in no doubt that victory will come if they stick to their game plan and the emphasis on Saturday will remain as it has been since coach Heyneke Meyer took over two years ago - seeking that ever-elusive perfect game.
Argentina will certainly pose a threat in the forward battle, be it in the scrums, lineouts, the topical and often controversial breakdown and in challenging the Springboks with brute physical force.
What will work in favour of the Springboks on Saturday is that they are not suffering from any delusions of grandeur stemming from their monumental 73-13 victory over Argentina in last year’s Rugby Championship opener at FNB Stadium.
Instead they are eager to walk a new path that will end in self-gratification and ultimately the Rugby Championship trophy.
“I don’t think the points are important to us,” De Villiers said on Friday.
“The points and the log are important because you want to get the wins to start stacking up there. But it is our execution and the way that we play that is more important. If we can get that right that is definitely the focus rather than the eventual scoreline,” added De Villiers.
Even though De Villiers wisely side-stepped the historical issue of the Pumas never beating the Springboks in Test rugby, he believes that there are lessons to draw from their more recent matches against Argentina, especially the nervous and close results of the two Tests they have played in Mendoza in the past two years.
In 2012, the Springboks clawed back from looming defeat in their first Rugby Championship game on South American soil to salvage a 13-all draw and last year they managed to escape with a close 22-17 victory.
According to De Villiers, the only lesson from the past is that his side will need to assert themselves as individuals but more importantly as a team, if they are to continue their unblemished record against the Pumas.
“The lesson is that it is in the past and tomorrow is a brand new ball game. We’ll have to start well and we’ll have to play well. If we focus on what we need to do individually on the field and collectively as a team and we perform well, hopefully we will get the result,” said De Villiers.
In their effort to break down the Springboks, Argentina will certainly target the lineout where Lood de Jager will be playing his first Test in the unfamiliar No 5 position.
Bulls flyhalf and Junior Springbok star flyhalf Handrè Pollard will also come in for some special attention from the Pumas as he starts only his second Test after making his debut against Scotland in June, while outside centre Damian de Allende will also need to have his wits about him on debut.
“Just like us they have selected their best possible side and believe their locks will do the job for them, so do we with the locks we’ve selected.
“You’ve got a guy like Bakkies (Botha) back who will give a lot of experience to a guy like Lood who is in an unfamiliar position but has done well in the five lock and taking care of the lineout.
“We’ll be hoping to have dominance at first phase. We’ll be looking to get our set pieces right and if we can do that and get a nice platform, hopefully we can get enough ball to attack from,” De Villiers said.
With much of the Springbok focus being largely on what they want to achieve in the game and in the Championship, they are wary of losing sight of the danger the Pumas pose especially with some of their stars like Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Martin Fernandez and Marcelo Bosch.
However, De Villiers is confident that his side will have enough firepower to be victorious and make the sort of start to the competition that will put them in the pound seats for another challenge at the title.
“They have selected a very strong side. They have an established nine and 10. In the midfield, Hernandez is a very gifted player and Bosch has done well at Saracens.
“They have their best players on the park and they will challenge us from a defensive point of view and we need to be at our best,” concluded De Villiers.
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