CAPE TOWN – Forget about the All Blacks, just focus on yourselves.
If Springbok legend Morne du Plessis had to give the Boks some advice as they prepare for the World Cup, which kicks off next month, that would probably be it.
The Laureus South Africa chairman spoke at the organisation’s breakfast in Newlands yesterday, joined by former Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger.
The former Boks discussed all things World Cup, from predictions to what they believe has been key in the Rugby Championship-winning Boks’ growth and, inevitably, the All Black topic came up.
Reflecting on the latest developments in SA Rugby, which saw attack consultant Swys de Bruin quit this week due to “personal and medical reasons”, Du Plessis said that the Boks’ best bet is to channel all their focus into their own tasks in Japan.
The Springboks will open their World Cup proceedings against New Zealand on September 21, while they’ll also face Italy, Namibia and Canada in Pool B.
“The Boks are peaking at the right time, but the All Blacks have been dominant for so long that as soon as they show the slightest weakness everybody just focuses on that and grabs onto it. But I think you’ve just got to watch out for yourself before you worry about the All Blacks.”
During the Championship, the All Blacks drew against the Boks and lost to Australia, which saw them place third on the log.
“We’re going to win against Namibia, we’re going to win against Italy and Canada. But it’s about the team’s time together, about what they do and the coach pulling out now, rather now than in the World Cup. So I think we’re in a brilliant position,” Du Plessis said.
Another inevitable element when it comes to such a big event is officiating.
Referees have stolen the show for all the wrong reasons at times, at World Cups included, and while De Villiers reckons some dubious calls can be expected, he added that sometimes it just comes down to the human element.
“There will be controversy, purely because of the human element of it,” he said. “Sometimes decisions are made that we don’t really understand from an officiating point of view, and I think all that we can ask for as spectators, and especially as players, is just that we see consistency throughout.
“The problem comes in when one guy officiates differently to the next and when you get blown for one thing one day but then the opposition does the same and nothing happens.
“We don’t always understand the human factor. We all make mistakes, but hopefully it doesn’t cause a team to win that doesn’t deserve to win.
Unfortunately it’s the nature of the game and hopefully we get the rub of the green this time.”@WynonaLouw