Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

De Villiers ready for the crunch

Jean de Villiers is expecting a tough physical battle against Samoa

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers is expecting a physical battle when he leads the Springboks into the Castle Lager Incoming Series final against Samoa on Saturday.

Scotland and Italy finished third and fourth respectively following the round-robin tournament and now Samoa will face South Africa in Pretoria for the title. The 32-year-old De Villiers wants to see improvement in the Springboks' defence following the 30-17 success over Scotland last time out.

"Certainly we will have to be better," he said. "There is no doubt about that and the management has selected the best team possible."

He added: "All our defences will be tested. They are big guys running at you and you have to stop that momentum. We didn't do that last week so we need to up it in that regard.

"It will be physical and you have to get the basics right. You have to make your tackles and you need to get over the advantage line when you've got the ball."

A sternum injury could yet rule De Villiers out of the final and there are also fitness questions over flanker Willem Alberts.

Coach Heyneke Meyer is keen to give his skipper as long as possible to prove his fitness but knows he has plenty of experienced players to step up to the plate if necessary.

"Jean is an integral member of our squad and we will give him all the time he needs to get back to full fitness," he said.

"Luckily we have a strong group of leaders in the squad and if Jean doesn't make it, Adriaan [Strauss] will take over the captaincy, with support provided by Francois Louw, Pierre Spies, Bryan Habana and Bismarck du Plessis."

Samoa, meanwhile, will welcome back full-back James So'oialo, who was forced to miss the 39-10 victory over Italy last weekend but is fit to return in place of Brando Va'aulu.

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