Grand Slam can atone for Tri-Nations torment, says Spies

South Africa No 8 Pierre Spies believes the prospect of a successful Grand Slam tour can help the world champion Springboks go some way to making up for the pain of a terrible Tri-Nations.

Losing five out of six matches against Australia and New Zealand was not in the script for a South Africa side that in 2009 both won the Tri-Nations and defeated the British and Irish Lions in a compelling Test series.

But a Springbok team featuring several inexperienced players defeated Ireland 23-21 on Saturday to keep alive hopes of a first South African clean sweep of the Home Nations since Avril Malan’s men swept all before them back in 1960.

“We were disappointed with our results in the Tri Nations and we have been given another opportunity with this tour, and what better way to start it than by beating Ireland in their new stadium,” said the 25-year-old Spies. “The guys played with hunger and a lot of pride and it’s a good step in the right direction for the future.

“We are motivated because of what happened in the Tri-Nations and we want to make it up to ourselves and to the country.

“We have a blend of youth and experience within the squad which makes it lively, fresh and new, and touring the UK is always exciting and different from touring down under.

“We have had some mixed results but we are excited about the future.”

Wretched record
This Saturday the Springboks face a Wales side who, for all their scrum dominance, lost 25-16 to Australia in Cardiff last weekend.

Wales have a wretched record against South Africa, with just one win in 24 Tests dating back 104 years but Spies expects the Welsh pack to carry on from where they left off against the Wallabies.

“We expect a huge onslaught,” he said.

“They will be really hungry for victory and wanting to prove a point before next year’s World Cup; they will be fired up with their home crowd hoping to sing them on to a victory.

“The Welsh side have a strong forward pack and they will bring it to us all day, and [scrumhalf] Mike Phillips is like an extra forward and asks questions round the rucks or in broken field.”

Wales and South Africa face each other in their opening fixture of next year’s World Cup in New Zealand, but Spies insisted the Springboks were concentrating on the task at hand.

“It’s in the back of our heads but as a group it’s about executing what we want to do, taking it week by week,” said the back-rower.

“The game against Ireland is behind us and we want a win against Wales.”

Both Wales and South Africa are due to name their teams on Tuesday.—Sapa-AFP


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