Springboks brace for Pumas side with claws
THE LAST time a Springbok team played at the foot of the Andes, they were required to scale peaks widely believed beyond the compass.
The Springbok midweek team had to reassemble itself after spending most of the first half on the receiving end against Argentina A in 2000 in Tucuman, but a miraculous rearguard action sparked by, among others, the second-half introduction of prop Lawrence Sephaka, saw them record an improbable victory.
The dice isn't quite as loaded against the class of 2012, but they will nonetheless have to prove their upward mobility when they take on the Pumas in their return Four Nations clash here tomorrow.
Although the Springboks won the first outing by a comfortable, yet unconvincing margin at Newlands last week, the Pumas are expected to raise their game a few notches in front of 50000 passionate fans.
Former Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen, himself having to summit a metaphorical mountain, is in no doubt the Boks are in for a tougher examination.
Even though motor neuron disease has drastically reduced his ability to speak, his message was loud and clear.
"It will be different. Argentina will be better," said Van der Westhuizen who is a guest of ambassador to Argentina, Tony Leon.
"I think they will be much more disciplined and that will present a greater challenge for the Springboks," said Van der Westhuizen.
Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt - but sometimes it creates respect. Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has braced himself for a challenge greater than the one presented to his side six days ago.
"It's always difficult playing the same team back to back.
"We've studied a lot of their video material. We know their line-out calls and they know ours. When you're an inexperienced coach you want to change things based on what the other teams does, but I believe you have to go out there and enforce your game plan.
"You must focus on what you want to do," said the coach.
More of the same, then, for the Springboks as they proceed with their uncomplicated, risk-averse model of play.
Armed with a bigger pack than the one that operated at Newlands, they will hope to bombard the Pumas' first line of defence with the heavy artillery strike running of Willem Albert and Jacques Potgieter.
The Boks failed to boss the gainline last week and the Pumas made sufficient nuisance of themselves at the breakdown to stymie the hosts' flow.
Meyer has reconfigured the Bok backrow in the hope that they will help kick the hosts' door down. But even if his team achieves that, there can be no guarantee the other areas of their game will be sufficient for a compelling performance.
At the time of going to press, the Pumas still had to decide who should take the place of injured flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez, leaving a huge void in the backline.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner; Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo; Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Willem Alberts, Jacques Potgieter, Marcell Coetzee; Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.
Substitutes: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Keegan Daniel; Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, JJ Engelbrecht.
Referee: Steve Walsh