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10 Jun 2009 15:52
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says the squad that have assembled in Durban to prepare for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions are in a positive frame of mind and are looking forward to the challenge of facing the tourists on June 20.
“The guys are looking hungry and want to be here,” De Villiers said at a press conference at their beachfront hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
Alongside him, captain John Smit said he expected the Lions to continue improving as their tour progressed.
“I think every game they will get better,” Smit said, “so far their progress has been good and I think they’ve achieved their objective by winning their first three games.
“They will want to keep that going into the first Test for sure. A formidable team is brewing.”
After a brief break following their victorious Super 14 final, the Bulls have joined the Springboks and lock Victor Matfield said they hoped their confidence would rub off on the rest of the squad.
“It’s great to be back and a part of the team now.
Hopefully we can bring confidence to the group, but the Super 14 is behind us now and we’ve got a new focus,” said Matfield.
Smit added that they would be heading into the unknown when they come up against the Lions, with certain ELVs being kept and others scrapped.
The Lions are also sure to spring a few surprises when it comes to selection for the first Test.
In addition, Welsh captain Ryan Jones will be joining the squad after flanker Stephen Ferris was ruled out of the rest of the tour with a knee injury.
“I know Ryan quite well,” Smit said. “I’ve obviously played a number of Tests against him and he’s a really great guy.
“He would have been disappointed to have not made the squad initially but he’ll bring something to the team both with his demeanour on the field and off it.”—Sapa
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