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De Villiers: Wales a must-win match


Jean De Villiers is treating the match with Wales like a World Cup final

Jean De Villiers is treating the match with Wales like a World Cup final

Jean De Villiers is treating the match with Wales like a World Cup final

Jean de Villiers says that South Africa will treat Saturday's Millennium Stadium clash against Wales like a World Cup final.

While Wales are desperate to end their long run of defeats against major southern hemisphere opposition this weekend, the Springboks are hell-bent on finishing their year in victorious fashion.

"This is a very important game for us," Springboks centre and skipper De Villiers said.

"The success of the year will be determined by the result tomorrow, and also our preparation going into a World Cup will definitely take a backward step if we don't get a good result.

"We have only got five games left before the (2015) World Cup. Our focus is only on tomorrow's game and what we need to improve on, because we have got quite a lot we need to improve on.

"Wales have got a lot to prove as well. This game is like a World Cup final as it's a must-win. We need to put in a good performance."

South Africa began their European tour by losing against Ireland in Dublin, but they responded through beating England and Italy, while it is only eight weeks since they toppled world champions New Zealand in a thrilling Rugby Championship encounter.

The Springboks field 11 of that All Blacks-conquering team this weekend and they will start as favourites, given a run of 16 successive victories against Wales.

" The same things are on the line, as they are every other time you put the Springboks jersey on," De Villiers said.

"The responsibility is there to represent your country and represent it with pride, and we are facing a quality side with something to prove, which makes the challenge greater.

"Wales have been pretty good. Sometimes you can just get caught into the results and, certainly, we have been in that position as well, where we have played good rugby and not been winning.

"You have to put everything into perspective and look at all their facets of play. They almost beat us in South Africa (five months ago), and we are under no illusions it's going to be a heck of a tough Test.

"There will be pressure for both teams, and who will be able to make the big plays in the difficult times in the game.

"There will be crucial times when you do need to deliver, and I am confident in the guys we have selected in the back-line and forwards. They have proven themselves before."

South Africa could end up playing Wales at the quarter-final stage of next year's World Cup, and De Villiers is keen to see his team deliver a complete performance.

"We need to improve in all areas," he said.

"We came to Europe on a high after beating New Zealand in the Rugby Championship, but we didn't play very well in that game. There were areas to improve on, and Ireland exploited that.

"We need to improve on our attack and defence. We have conceded five tries already this tour and, attacking-wise, we have had chances we have failed to take.

"Our scrum has been very good throughout the tour - the best area of our game - and the breakdown is also an area where we can improve.

"The set-piece will remain a very important part of the game of rugby. If you can dominate that area and get a lot of possession, usually you can dictate the pace of the game, but it's also about what you do with that possession.

"That is the key for us - making good decisions and making sure we execute things at a top level."