Boks see Italy game as TriNations trial
EAST LONDON — It would come as a major surprise if Italy should come even close to beating the Springboks in the second Test in East London today in a match the Springboks will undoubtedly use as final match preparation for the defence of their Tri-Nations title.
The Boks leave for Australasia next weekend to play the All Blacks (on June 10 in Auckland and on July 17 in Wellington) and the Wallabies (in Brisbane on July 24).
Italy, who were very competitive in the first Test where they were particularly impressive at the breakdowns, have taken note that the Boks aim to be more accurate in their execution and general play.
“We read that the Springbok coach is not happy with last week’s performance, and we know it will be more difficult,” said Italy forward coach Carlo Orlandi.
The visitors have nevertheless made nine changes to the side — seven of them in the pack that did so well last Saturday — while the Springboks’ team changes have generally strengthened the side after a number of players were rested last weekend.
It is a match in which the Boks will try and play to their true potential.
It is also a Test in which those players that have not convinced coach De Villiers of their potential get the last chance to do so.
All 26 players for the Tri-Nations tour should come from the players used in the last two Tests, with the exception of Danie Rossouw and Francois Hougaard. Rossouw was rested last weekend and withdrew with injury this weekwhile Hougaardwasnotconsidered for any of the four Test teams selected to date. Today, expect the Boks to again scrum well. They realise that they now have a commanding strength in the front row, where it was a weakness last year. John Smit, now at hooker where he belongs, and loosehead Gurtrho Steenkamp have made a difference, and tighthead Jannie du Plessis has shown his value after at last getting an extended run. The Boks also have a few new permutations of loose forwards in the squad who will be out to control possession and therefore give their forwards more go-forward momentum.
The Boks will play a more conservative and more correct game with a view to get their interplay right after last weekend. They will try to keep the ball in hand and support well. Morné Steyn will play the pattern he’s so good at and the visitors will be ground down in Bulls fashion that has largely also become the Boks’ approach. The 26-man team, to be announced after today’s Test, will probably not differ much from the following: