White aims to beat England
With a lack of senior players, four new caps and the World Cup only a few months away, Springbok coach Jake White has his sights firmly fixed on beating England in their forthcoming two matches on the Springboks’ end-of-year tour.
The Springboks leave South Africa in two weeks’ time for two consecutive matches against England, a Test against Ireland and a festival match against a World XV, but it is the England Tests that White wants his team to win, turning around a nine-year losing streak against England away from home.
“Our objective is obviously to win as many Tests as we can. The two games against England are very important for us to win if we want to win the World Cup. Psychologically, to get a win over England away from home is very important,” White said.
South Africa have been drawn with England in the same group for next year’s World Cup, to be held in France, and were also in the same group as England in the last World Cup in 2003.
The Springboks lost the game and were then eliminated in the quarterfinals.
White is also looking at the World Cup and that is why players such as Victor Matfield, Os du Randt, Percy Montgomery, Bryan Habana and Fourie du Preez have been rested and the likes of Francois Steyn, Jaco Pretorius, Hilton Lobberts and Bevan Fortuin will be handed new caps.
The coach has come in for some heavy criticism in the past few days for leaving out certain senior players and for resting 24 contracted Springbok players from playing in the latter stages of the Currie Cup.
“This is the first time in a long time where we get time before the end-of-year tour. Obviously there are negatives because some guys haven’t played much rugby; you can’t win on every account. The guys have had time to get over their niggling injuries and back to full fitness, although they might not be match fit.
“What is the answer? I’m worried that they play a lot of rugby and then go on the end-of-year tour. The only way we are going to find out is after our first game where we’ll see how good we are or how rusty we are,” said White on Friday.
He could not guarantee that he would be fielding all the new caps, but did say they are a breath of fresh air to the squad and their selection into the team will be determined on a game-by-game basis.
“We will see how each game goes and also what combinations we want. The youngsters bring in something different to the team. Everyone is saying that there is a lot of talent in this country and I want that talent to be seen in international rugby,” said White.—Sapa