The Springboks started their week in Cardiff in preparation for their Castle Lager Outgoing Tour opener against Wales at the Millennium Stadium with two good training sessions at the sports fields of the University of South Wales.
The Boks hit the muddy fields on Monday and Tuesday afternoon and it was clear from their attitude at training that they are excited about the challenge of facing the Six Nations champions on Saturday. Kick-off is at 17h30 (19h30 SA time).
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, his assistant in charge of the backline, Ricardo Loubscher and Francois Louw, who made his Test debut in Cardiff in 2010, addressed the media on Monday and Tuesday and their message was clear: this tour, which also includes Tests against Scotland and France, will be a tough one in conditions we’ve not yet encountered this year, but it’s similar to what we can expect at the Rugby World Cup in 2015. Still, we want to keep our positive mind-set on the field.
Even though rain was predicted for Tuesday, it was dry while the Boks trained. Wednesday’s forecast says there is an 80% chance of showers, but that won’t deter the South Africans, who are clearly enjoying their trip to the Northern Hemisphere.
Jaque Fourie, who last played for the Boks at the RWC in 2011, slotted in with ease, as did the returning JP Pietersen, who has not yet been involved this season due to a combination of injuries and club commitments.
The five uncapped members of the squad, Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Lourens Adriaanse, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Louis Schreuder are clearly also enjoying this tour and are getting properly stuck in at training, using this opportunity to see what the Springbok ethos is about and learning heaps from the more experienced members of the squad.
Fourie du Preez spent time with Schreuder after training on Monday, working on some finer scrumhalf tricks, and both hookers, Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss, have been paying a lot of attention to detail with Ntubeni on the training field.
The team to face Wales will be announced on Wednesday afternoon. Thursdays are traditionally the Boks’ day off, where the players get a break from their training schedule and, weather dependent, get an opportunity to take in what Cardiff has to offer, before they refocus on Friday with the captains run at the Millennium Stadium.