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Thu Apr 24 03:18:30 SAST 2014

Four Nations offers a new objective for Boks

CRAIG RAY | 10 August, 2012 06:390 Comments
2012 The Castle Rugby Championship: Springboks training session
Jean de Villiers during the South African national rugby team training session at High Performance Centre on August 06, 2012 in Cape Town
Image by: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images

SPRINGBOK captain Jean de Villiers believes his side will be more focused now that they don't have to worry about returning to the Super 15.

The Boks played three tests against England in June, which were sandwiched into the latter stages of the Super 15.

A week after the third test, Bok teammates were locked in battle against each other again. It was a situation that played on the minds of the players during the series.

"There's a different mindset knowing you don't have another tournament to go back to," De Villiers said after a light workout with the squad in Cape Town this week.

"We played against England knowing we would have to go back to the Super 15.

"But now all our focus is on this tournament.

"We have an extra week to prepare compared to the England series."

De Villiers understands his team's inexperience as they head into the new Four Nations tournament, featuring New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

Since last season the Springboks have lost senior players such as John Smit, Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Jaque Fourie and JP Pietersen to international retirement or injury.

Between them these senior players boasted 469 test caps.

"You select the best team available and that's all you can control," De Villiers said.

"Some guys will be injured and some guys won't be available, that's just rugby.

"The reality is we are a less-experienced team than we were last year - a massive challenge that we have to deal with.

"Every player here is proud to be selected and they all want to fight for a position, which brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the squad.

"They will all put their bodies on the line because that's the responsibility of wearing the Bok jersey."

Many observers have viewed tournament newcomers Argentina as the weakest of the four teams.

But the Boks aren't subscribing to that view.

"That's definitely a trap we won't fall into," De Villiers said.

"We see these two games [the immediate, back-to-back ones against Argentina] as perhaps the most important in the tournament.

"They will obviously be psyched up for their introduction into the event and give it everything.

"We need to build on what we achieved in the England series.

"We disappointed ourselves a bit in the [drawn] last game - we need to get back to the standard of the first 30 minutes in that second test and the counter-attacking of the first test."

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