While the Springboks respect their Namibian opponents, they also see Thursday’s Pool D World Cup match as a last opportunity to fine-tune their game for more brutal battles.
“From our point of view, we realise that [Namibia views this match as their final] and we respect that in them,” Springbok forwards coach Gary Gold said on the eve of the match.
“We know their coaches as well and we know their coaching structures are very good at the moment.”
The defending champions made five changes to the side which secured a resounding 49-3 victory over Fiji last week, in an attempt to expose fewer key players to what should be a very physical contest.
Rotation was at the heart of the team’s composition, with flank Heinrich Brussow sitting out to allow Willem Alberts a place in the starting line-up.
Fourie du Preez will also watch the match from the side as Francois Hougaard gets his first start of the tournament.
Hougaard has only been used as a wing in the tournament thus far. He is relishing his chance to be in the run-on team, even though he has realistic expectations for the remainder of the tournament.
“Fourie has been around for a long time and he is one of the guys who knows the game the best,” Hougaard said.
“That said, it is still a huge honour and privilege to start for the Springboks and I have been covering both wing and scrumhalf in our training sessions.”
The most notable difference for him will be the amount of energy he will have to exert being so close to the action.
“In the fitness department, it is a big shift because I have to be everywhere in defence and attack, especially attack, and at scrumhalf you have to keep more to the structures of play.
“But I think my mindset of going out there and doing my best won’t change.”
Hougaard said his decision-making will also be tested and he was privileged to have learned his trade under Du Preez.
Keeping the form going
Communication between the forwards and backs becomes his responsibility and Hougaard said he would have to be more vocal on the pitch.
The Springbok forwards were on top of their game against Fiji and should they lay the same platform, it could become a long day for the Namibians.
It will be an important day for CJ van der Linde who is one of few players capable of packing down both sides of the scrum.
Flank Willem Alberts will cherish his start, even though he knows his promotion to the run-on team serves as a test should Brussow succumb to injury during the knockout-out stages.
Namibia made six changes to their side after last week’s 49-12 defeat to Samoa.
They are yet to register log points in the tournament and will view an honourable defeat to the defending champions as a moral victory. — Sapa
SA team: Pat Lambie, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Willem Alberts, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, CJ van der Linde, John Smit (captain), Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw, Heinrich Brussow, Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Juan de Jongh.
Namibia team: Chrysander Botha, Danie Dames, Danie van Wyk, Piet van Zyl, Heine Bock, Theuns Kotze, Eugene Jantjies, Jacques Nieuwenhuis, Jacques Burger (captain), Tinus Du Plessis, Nico Esterhuyse, Heinz Koll, Marius Visser, Bertus O’Callaghan, Johnnie Redelinghuys.
Replacements: Hugo Horn, Jané du Toit, Pieter Jan van Lill, Rohan Kitshoff, Ryan de la Harpe, Darryl de la Harpe, Conrad Marais
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