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Fourie du Preez backs South Africa to be up to test against Wales

South Africa skipper Fourie du Preez has backed the Springboks to stand up and be counted again on Saturday and continue their impressive World Cup recovery act four weeks after they were humbled by Japan.

Victory over Wales at Twickenham would take Du Preez and company into the World Cup semi-finals, which is a far cry from the desolate scenes that accompanied their 34-32 Pool B loss to Japan.

"It (Japan defeat) was obviously a massive shock, but it could have gone much worse," Du Preez said.

"We had Samoa next, which was a very big battle for us, and then Scotland, who are on the up. We could have lost three in a row and we would have been the worst Springbok team of all time.

"We had to focus a little bit more. There was massive pressure for us, and I am very proud how each member of the team and management team stood up after that.

"We could either lie down or stand up, and I think that we showed that we stood up, and I think tomorrow we are going to stand up again."

Wales have only beaten South Africa twice in Test match history, with that run of defeats including 16 successive losses between 2000 and 2014, but Du Preez is taking no notice of past results.

"Tomorrow at 4pm, we start at zero. The last time we played Wales, they beat us," he added.

"In a World Cup, any team can beat anyone, and over the weekend any four of the eight quarter-finalists can go through. They are going to be four big games.

"Anything that has happened in the past doesn't really count. All that matters is tomorrow at four o'clock.

"You can be as well prepared to adapt to the referee. In 2011 (against Australia) we were well prepared but didn't adapt to the referee, and in 2007 we almost lost against Fiji, so it's all about what happens on the day.

"It doesn't matter which stadium, what record, what happened in the previous games against Wales. We are just looking forward to a massive battle."

Du Preez has had to overcome his own battle just to make the World Cup, putting injury setbacks behind him and now preparing to drive their bid for a semi-final place.

"Last year, in June, I almost had a career-ending injury," he said. "It was a long battle for me to get back on the field.

"Then I played in Japan, everything went well and I had a nice off-season. Then I had quite a bad knee injury, so two or three weeks before the World Cup, I wasn't sure if I was still going to play rugby. I am very lucky to be here today.

"It was quite a mental battle, and a physical battle as well. I mentally had to make a decision, and some decisions can come good."

The contest up-front will be pivotal to Saturday's outcome, where Wales must absorb inevitable heavyweight Springboks pressure, while also looking for an edge themselves.

South Africa number eight Duane Vermeulen said: "It is going to be played up-front by the forwards, so it's going to be a massive physical battle for us. The Welsh won't back down.

"It is all about the inches, and hopefully we can go out there and deliver and make the guys and the coaches proud.

"I think we have played against all three of them (Wales' back-row) in previous meetings, so we know quite a lot about them and the way they play.

"I think Sam Warburton is really good at the breakdown, and I think it's going to be tough for us, but it is definitely a challenge we are looking forward to and we definitely won't back down on that challenge."


From Belfast Telegraph