Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
2 minute read
29 Aug 2013
6:00 am

Boks face uphill battle

Rudolph Jacobs

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer issued a warning yesterday of the challenge awaiting his team Down Under.

The Test against Australia in Brisbane next weekend and another against the All Blacks in Auckland a week later, will define the Bok aspirations in this year’s effort. “The Springboks have never beaten Australia at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane and our last victory at Eden Park was in 1937,” said Meyer.

“Australia may have lost their first two matches, but they showed a marked improvement last weekend in Wellington.” The 28-man Springbok squad, who get together today, will depart for Brisbane via Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

Following requests to the South African Rugby Union (Saru) from four French clubs, it was decided to release five players this weekend and they will only join the squad in Brisbane on Monday: Morne Steyn (Stade Francais), Bryan Habana (Toulon), Juandre Kruger (Racing Metro), Gurthro Steenkamp and Jano Vermaak (both Toulouse).

Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, left, is in a race against time to be fit for the tough two-Test Springbok away leg of the Rugby Championship. Ralepelle was ruled out of the trip to Mendoza last week but yesterday he and fullback Zane Kirchner’s names were added to the group of 26 for the Australasian trip. But Ralepelle, the third hooker in the squad, has a back injury and will have to pass a fitness test tomorrow.

“We will have to put in a lot of hard work in the next 10 days,” stressed Meyer. “We let ourselves down in certain areas of the game in Mendoza and will have to fix those if we are going to be competitive against Australia.” The Boks currently top the log on points difference after beating the Pumas twice, but last weekend’s struggling 22-17 win in Argentina has triggered alarm bells.

“The Aussies are always tough opponents at home the last Springbok victory over there was in 2009 and we’ve only won three out of 18 matches in this competition in Australia.”

While question marks were raised over the performances of fullback Willie le Roux and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, Meyer opted to leave out Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon and Franco van der Merwe.