The Boks have been ‘fan­tas­tic all week’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - WYNONA LOUW

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.”

Matt Proud­foot

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