Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Springboks plot grand slam course

Victor Matfield
Victor Matfield

Injury to Bryan Habana and the departures of Bjorn Basson and Chiliboy Ralepelle, who have been suspended and sent home after testing positive for a banned stimulant, mean South Africa head coach Peter de Villiers could call for reinforcements as the Springboks seek a Grand Slam this month.

South Africa meet Scotland on Saturday, with De Villiers making six changes and one positional switch from the squad of 22 which overturned a 20-9 deficit to defeat Wales 29-25 last Saturday. But captain Victor Matfield has warned Scotland his side are improving and ready to perform at Murrayfield.

He said: "We're getting better. I think there are things that are starting to happen for this team. I think that self-belief is coming, so hopefully we can build on that. We want to start better, but it doesn't matter what happens, as long as you win at the end of the 80 minutes, that's the important thing."

Scotland lost 49-3 to New Zealand in the opening EMC Autumn Test last Saturday, ending a four-Test unbeaten run, but Matfield and his side are wary of a response.

"I don't think there will be any complacency because we're definitely not happy with the way we're playing yet," added Matfield.

"There are good things in our game, but there is still a lot of hard work that we know we need to do. They're a very tough side - I think they showed that in the Six Nations. They played a few great games and they went over to Argentina - it's not the easiest place to tour and to get two victories there is great.

"I think they will definitely test our defence, but we need to focus on the things we want to do out there and hopefully we can get the ball and make them defend."

De Villiers believes Scotland were unfortunate against the All Blacks, having kept possession for long periods without taking their chances, and is cautious ahead of the Murrayfield meeting.

"We will never underestimate anybody," he added. "They are a very good international side and if we think we deserve to rock up (and win), I think we deserve a gun in our hands, to shoot ourselves.

"I don't think one of our players will ever become complacent and we'll never underestimate anybody that we play against."

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