Boks hit the ground running

Date published: August 5 2014

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer expects a tough challenge when they start their campaign against Argentina in Pretoria on August 16.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer expects a tough challenge when they kick off their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday, August 16.

The Boks' preparations got underway on Monday and apart from medicals, administrative and commercial obligations, which included visa applications and photo shoots, they also had their first training session in Johannesburg.

Twenty-nine members of the squad named last Saturday reported for duty on Monday, with the final squad member, Schalk Brits, due to arrive on Tuesday.

The Springbok medical team assessed all the players in the squad, paying specific attention to squad members carrying niggles, and calls on the management of certain players will be made in the next day or two.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, who missed the four matches in June due to injury, said the excitement in the squad is palpable in anticipation of what promises to be a very tough Rugby Championship.

“I believe Argentina, under new coach Daniel Hourcade, will yet again be a difficult opponent, but we're not focused on them at this stage,” said Meyer.

“The management have worked very hard getting their planning in place for the competition. The most important thing this week for us as players will be to get into game mode as quickly as possible.

“There simply isn't time to ease into things – the competition starts in less than two weeks in Pretoria and we've got to be ready.

“The Argentineans arrive here on Wednesday and they've been preparing for a while now. We have to be at our very best next Saturday.”

The Springboks' last two visits to Loftus Versfeld under the captaincy of De Villiers were very successful – in 2012 the South Africans beat Australia 31-8 and last year they were too strong for Samoa, scoring eight tries in a 56-23 victory.

“We've scored 13 tries in our last two visits to Loftus and it's something we want to build on,” said De Villiers.

“We were obviously very happy with our last two performances there, and the support for the Boks is always good in Pretoria, so we're hoping we can count on more of the same next weekend.

“But the past will count for nothing if we don't get out of the blocks well at Loftus. We've done our planning and are itching to get onto the field and get going.”