The Boks have been ‘fantastic all week’
SPRINGBOK scrum coach Matt Proudfoot praised the players for their “excellent effort” during the first week of training in Port Elizabeth for their Rugby Championship-opener against Argentina on August 19.
Proudfoot said the Springbok players, who arrived in the Friendly City on Tuesday, were hard at work, and it’s the way they gelled this week that Proudfoot was especially proud of.
“The players have been fantastic all week long during training and the coaches are really proud of the way they have prepared and their excellent effort so far,” said Proudfoot.
“It is fantastic to see how well the players get along with each other, taking into account that they’ve just come out of a tough Super Rugby season. Extra time allows the bond to grow stronger.”
The Bok assistant coach also said the fact they have longer to prepare this year, as opposed to last year, boosts their chances of experiencing a successful season.
“Preparation time is golden. Allister emphasised we had those three training camps and which gave us a lot of continuity building into the Tests (against France). It gives you an opportunity to be successful – the more time you spend together, the more you become aligned.“The Argentinians are quite known for it (physicality), but they’ve balanced their game out with a lot of emphasis from Graham Henry. So they’re a well-balanced side,” he said.
“But their set-phase stuff, their defensive breakdown… they’re very, very competent (in those areas). They’re able to turn ball over and then unleash a potent counter-attack, so we’re well aware of it and we’ve done our preparation.”
“We were caught out a bit in Salta last year with their aerial game, so that’s one of the areas we’ve been focusing on.“We know they’ve had a lot of time to prepare and the nice thing for them is that their whole squad is together in Argentina. However, we must not be under the illusion that it’s the same side that played Super Rugby.”
“They’re a total different side when they pull on that white and blue jersey – they put a lot of pride into that jersey, and also the way they play”
Meanwhile, Bok vice-captain Siya Kolisi, who started his rugby journey in PE, said he was excited to be back in his hometown.
“I must admit I am looking forward to the rest of our preparations. I know how much the people of the Eastern Cape enjoy their rugby and also appreciate the fact that the Boks are here for two weeks.”
Kolisi, who was nursing an injury sustained during the Stormers’ Super Rugby quarter-final against the Chiefs, added that he would be fit and ready for the Springboks’ Championship-opener.
“I was still doing rehab earlier in the week but have since started with full-on training,” the Stormers captain said.
And on his appointment as Bok vice- captain, Kolisi said: “It is such a huge honour and privilege, and I am especially proud of my mate Eben (Etzebeth) who will captain the side. It’s a responsibility which I embrace and I would like to believe the extra responsibility will help to improve my game.”