Matfield expecting physical onslaught

Date published: July 17 2015

Springbok captain Victor Matfield is expecting a massive onslaught from a big and physical Wallaby pack in Brisbane on Saturday.

South Africa kick off their Rugby Championship campaign looking for a repeat of their 38-12 win on their last visit to Brisbane, when they dominated the Wallabies in the set-pieces.

Matfield will extend his own record as the most capped Springbok in history (currently on 121 Tests). He will also extend his record of 121 Tests as a lock and will be playing against Australia for the 27th time, improving his own South African record.

"Michael Cheika likes a big and physical pack, like he’s done at the Waratahs, and he’s selected one for tomorrow, opting against picking two openside flankers," said Matfield.

"They will look to dominate the advantage line and our challenge is to stop their big ball carriers, because they will be very dangerous if they get momentum.

Matfield said that although the Boks will obviously want to start the Rugby Championship on a winning note, they are also keeping one eye on the Rugby World Cup later this year.

But Matfield added that good form in the Rugby Championship did not necessarily translate into World Cup success.

"I've seen teams win the championship and go on and win the World Cup and I've seen teams not go so well in the championship and also win the World Cup," he said.

"So it's more for us as to see where we are as a team, do we still need to change some things in our structure. For now everything is in place and we really want to go out and win the game and win the championship as well.

"A good win gives confidence to the squad, it also gives a nice vibe for the next few weeks. But if it doesn't go well, we'll have a look at it and hopefully have a lot of time to fix it before the World Cup."

The Springboks finished a shorter-than-usual week in Australia with a light captain’s run in very windy conditions at Brisbane Grammar School on Friday afternoon.

The Test venue, Suncorp Stadium, where the captain’s run normally takes place, was not available as English soccer club Liverpool are in town and will be playing local club Brisbane Roar there on Friday evening.

Matfield laughed when asked how it felt to be sharing the team hotel with Liverpool.

"It’s quite different walking out of the hotel and to see all these fans dressed in red staring at you, looking to see Liverpool – they really have a lot of fans," he said.

On a more serious note, Matfield said the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup preparations started a few weeks ago and that Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies will be a good opportunity to see where the team stands.

"Our goal is to win," said Matfield.

"We have trained hard and worked very hard on our fitness levels, which we will on-going, every day.

"And while we have been working very hard towards the Rugby World Cup, this is a big Test in itself and that is where our focus is for now."