Duane Vermeulen and Rassie Erasmus with their Rugby Championship trophies. Photo: @Springboks on twitter

DURBAN – The Springboks return home from Argentina this morning as champions of the Southern Hemisphere and they are all set for a homecoming celebration at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday when they host the Pumas in a friendly.

Rassie Erasmus’ Boks won the Rugby Championship in the mountainous Argentinean city of Salta at the weekend when they thrashed the home side 47-13.

They now turn their attentions to a return match with the Pumas before they depart for Japan on August 31.

The South African’s will then play their final warm-up in Tokyo against hosts Japan on September 9 before the big Pool B opener against the All Blacks on September 21.

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Duane Vermeulen, the Springbok captain in Salta, said the Championship title win is an important confidence booster ahead of the World Cup.

“It’s a great feeling for us to walk away with the title, but in the end we must see it as a stepping stone for us going into the World Cup,” he said. “The victory is a great thing for our country because we know that if the Springboks do well then everyone is happy in South Africa.

“So, for us it’s a great feeling, but I want to emphasise it’s now more about working on our consistency and working towards the things we hope to achieve.”

Vermeulen added that while the Boks will enjoy their first silverware since John Smit’s team won the then Tri-Nations in 2009, they are aware that plenty of work remains ahead of them before they tackle the All Blacks next month.

“We started the Rugby Championship working on executing our plans efficiently, and in a way we are happy with it in this regard, but there are still a few things to work on.

“New Zealand had a tough game against Australia (they lost heavily in Perth at the weekend) and they will be hungry to bounce back so we have to prepare well for them.

“But, yes, we are happy with where we are at the moment.”

New Zealand, meanwhile, will hope to bounce back after their disastrous 47-26 defeat this weekend when they host Australia in the return Bledisloe Cup fixture at Eden Park in Auckland.

@MikeGreenaway67 

The Mercury

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