Springbok utility back Manie Libbok and No 8 Evan Roos were thrilled about receiving the opportunity to face Italy in their Castle Lager Outgoing Tour Test in Genoa on Saturday, and said they expected the clash to be a tough grind.
Both players are newbies in the Springbok set-up with Libbok having made his debut off the bench against France in Marseille last week, while Roos played his first and only Test against Wales in the Castle Lager Incoming Series in July, and both players were raring to go against Italy.
“It was a very special moment for me to make my Test debut,” said Libbok.
“It was certainly one of the biggest moments in my life. It was an honour and a dream come true, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
“Taking the field and getting my first taste of Test rugby was a fantastic feeling. Once I was on the field, I just wanted to get my hands on the ball and play. I feel exactly the same going into this match, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Libbok has been named as one of only two backs on the replacements bench with scrumhalf Cobus Reinach thanks to his versatility – a role he is keen to take on for the Boks: “I can play flyhalf, fullback and centre, so I will play wherever the team need me.”
Roos, who has been patiently waiting in the wings and taking in as much as possible during his time with the national squad, was equally pleased about the prospect of earning his second Test cap.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity, so much so that I am struggling to sleep at night,” said Roos.
“It has been a while since I last played a Test, so I really want to bring energy and a presence off the bench. I won’t do anything differently I just want to play my game.
“The last time I got a chance to play was against Wales, so one learns to appreciate it, and when you get the opportunity to play it is even more special.”
Roos added: “I’ve been learning a lot from Jasper and Kwagga and I am trying to take everything in. The nice thing about this environment is that it is competitive, but we help one another.”
Both players expected a massive challenge from Italy, who come off a morale boosting 30-29 victory against Australia, while they beat Samoa by 49-17 the previous weekend.
“They come off two good wins and they are on a roll, so we know we are going to face a very tough team,” said Libbok.
“That said, we have prepared well this week and there is a good atmosphere in the camp, so we are looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.”
Roos shared these sentiments: “Italy are a good team, and they will back themselves going into this match after putting up a good performance last week (against Australia).”
The Springboks finished up their last big training session on Wednesday and will have Thursday off to rest before wrapping up their preparations on Friday with their captain’s run.
Nienaber, Kolisi praise Boks for special win
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi praised the team for their brave effort to earn their first win over England at Twickenham since 2014, and their first personal victories in London as they registered a rewarding 27-13 victory on Saturday.
The Boks built up an encouraging 14-3 halftime lead and managed to stretch it to 27-6 in the 57th minute before being reduced to 14 men for the last 20 minutes after replacement prop Thomas du Toit received a red card for a dangerous tackle. Despite this, the team hung on as if their lives depended on it to snatch the memorable victory.
The result saw the Boks win two of their four matches on the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour – with the two narrow defeats being against the first and second ranked teams in the world in Ireland and France.
“We’ve had a couple of special results as a team, but this was the first win for Siya and I at Twickenham, so it’s very special to us,” said Nienaber.
“The forwards were outstanding and created a good platform for our backs to attack, so all-in-all, it was a fantastic team effort.”
Kolisi echoed lauded the entire team for their efforts to make the victory possible.
“Sometimes we take it for granted what a special environment one is in and the great coaching team we have,” said Kolisi.
“When we got together with most of this coaching team in 2018, we all bought into the plans and the synergy and the way we work together is really special in this group.”
Nienaber was delighted with the way some of the young players rose to the occasion and said: “With this match being outside of the international Test window there were a whole lot of players who were not available for selection, but we have a lot of players knocking on the door and it was great to give those guys an opportunity tonight.
“It’s always good to give those players a chance under such pressure in front of a packed Twickenham, which can be pretty hostile, and they stood up today.”
Asked what he had told his players when they were reduced to 14 men, Kolisi said: “We actually said last week there is nothing we haven’t faced together as a group year. We’ve even been in situation when we had a red card, so the players knew what to do.
“Everyone knew they had to work harder to make up for the extra man, and the way the forwards played was great, and everyone did their bit to get the result.”
Wrapping up the tour, Nienaber said: “This was one of the most enjoyable four weeks we’ve had had even though we only got a 50% win record. The way the team, coaches, management and the game drivers made plans and worked tightly together with it was great, and we can take a lot from this going forward.”
The team will make their journey back to South Africa on Sunday and arrive on their home soil on Monday.
Brilliant Boks outclass England at Twickenham
Fourteen-man South Africa produced a commanding performance at Twickenham to end the Castle Lager Outgoing tour on a high note with a 27-13 (halftime 14-3) victory over an outclassed England on Saturday.
Replacement prop Thomas du Toit was sent off for a high tackle with 20 minutes remaining to suggest that the game might be back in the melting pot. Although the Boks led 27-6 at that point, England had come back from a 19-point deficit to draw with the All Blacks seven days earlier.
But there was to be no ‘miracle’ for the home team this time; no last-minute disappointment as was suffered here a year ago or by a 14-man Boks in Marseille three weeks ago. It was a massive statement of depth and intent as a mix-and-match combination showed resolve and great composure to close out the game against an ultimately confounded home team.
A Springbok team shorn of backline regulars Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Cheslin Kolbe as well as pack stalwarts Lood de Jager and Pieter-Steph du Toit – and featuring their third-choice goal kicker in Faf de Klerk – ultimately commanded Twickenham after beginning cautiously but growing into the game with increasing confidence.
They scored two tries through the outstanding wing Kurt-Lee Arendse – scoring in a fifth successive test – and lock Eben Etzebeth to one from Henry Slade, while flyhalf Damian Willemse dropped two goals with Faf de Klerk kicking a conversion and three penalties.
South Africa’s Rugby World Cup dominance of the English pack resurfaced as scrum and maul were dominant with free-kick and penalties arriving as early as the first two scrums. De Klerk was wide with his first shot at goal from the penalty and England took the lead in the 11th minute when centre Owen Farrell was successful with his second kick at goal. Unbelievably his first attempt had gone wide from straight in front.
A neck tackle on No 8 Evan Roos presented De Klerk with an easier opportunity to level the scores mid0way through the half before Farrell – to general astonishment – missed another straightforward opportunity a couple of minutes later.
But that was to be England’s last sniff of first-half points as the Springboks dominated the second quarter.
A succession of lineout drives put the England pack on a warning and one from one such drive Siya Kolisi was held up over the line (Roos did manage to ground half a second after the whistle had gone).
England’s defence was resolute however and it rook a cool 30-metre drop goal from Willemse – his first for the Springboks – to edge his team into the lead for the first time on the half hour.
Three minutes later the game burst to life.
England had kicked frequently and from one such bomb on to Willemse just inside his own 22 the Bok backs cut England to pieces. The Bok flyhalf evaded the chasing Freddie Steward, fed the ever-alert Willie le Roux on his inside who in turn passed to Arendse on the right-hand touchline 40 metres out. The flying wing had Marcus Smith in front of him, but an inside-outside swerve saw him speed past the flat-footed defender without being touched.
Straight from the restart South Africa again broke from deep – dummying the box kick and breaking away through Willemse and Arendse – and although it didn’t lead to points the half ended on top with De Klerk kicking his second penalty to give his team an 11-point lead (14-3).
Willemse’s comfort in the No 10 jersey was writ large when he landed a second drop two minutes into the new half with cool assurance.
Farrell cancelled it out with his second successful penalty from in front after De Klerk strayed offside, but it was a rare moment of success for England as they started clearing their bench early to try and cancel out the Boks’ firepower up front.
It di not work initially as the building pressure from a succession of lineout drives led to a yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck by loosefoward Tom Curry. Two minutes later the numerical advantage was rewarded for the Boks. England were forced onto their goal-line and the outstanding Eben Etzebeth scored under the cross bar from a metre out.
De Klerk converted and then added a fabulous penalty from 50 metres to give the Springboks a three-score lead at 27-6. But the Springboks’ fortunes were about to change.
The Bomb Squad’s impact had been apparent with the new front row of Malcom Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Thomas du Toit extracting more scrum penalties from the English front row.
But Du Toit’s stay was short-lived as he was ed carded with 20 minutes to go for entering a tackle in an upright position and driving with his head and shoulder into England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.
That set up a tense final 20 minutes but the resolute, scrambling Bok defence was not to suffer the same fate as the All Blacks’ a week before at Twickenham.
Centre Henry Slade managed to cross in the period, but it was the only sighting the tryline England could manufacture as they trudged from the field, baffled, and beaten.
England 13 (3) – Try: Hery Slade. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalty goals: Farrell (2).
Springboks 27 (14) – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Eben Etzebeth. Conversion: Faf De Klerk. Penalty goals: De Klerk (3). Drop goals: Damian Willemse (2).
Boks want to change fortunes against England
The Springboks are determined to change history as they go in search of their first victory over England at Twickenham in eight years in their final Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match on Saturday, and both captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said they are expecting a hard grind of a match.
The Boks last beat England at Twickenham in 2014 and since then they have come marginally close, suffering one-point defeats in their last two matches at the renowned stadium.
With the team having shown that they are on the right track after being narrowly pipped by the two top ranked teams in the world (Ireland and France) before defeating Italy convincingly, the Boks have all the motivation they need to finish their tour on a high note this weekend.
“The rivalry between the teams goes way back,” said Stick.
“It’s hard to win here and the stadium has a rich history. A lot of people who have played here haven’t won. It’s going to be another tough game tomorrow and both teams will give everything they have in a in a packed stadium.
“So I’m really I’m really looking forward to it and the boys are ready for it too.”
Kolisi shared Stick’s sentiments and said their comprehensive 32-12 victory against England in the Rugby World Cup final in 2019 was a distant memory.
“2019 was a long time ago,” said Kolisi.
“A lot of the guys that were there then are no longer here, so this match is different. We can’t look at that as motivation.
“We lost here last year, so we don’t have to look too far. This is a new group of players and we are want to make the country proud.”
Stick said regardless of the result on Saturday, there were a lot of positives the Springboks could take out of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
“It’s always our goal is always to win, irrespective of who we play against, so this is an important game for us,” said Stick.
“There are a lot of positives we can take out of the tour irrespective of the results tomorrow. We got a lot of answers from playing against the No 1 and No 2 teams in the world, and we came close in those games. We are also pleased with the way we developed in our game.”
Stick added: “We believe we are in a good space building toward the World Cup, but that said we haven’t beaten England here for the past eight years, so it’s going to be a massive game.”
With England staging a dramatic comeback last week to register a 25-25 draw against New Zealand, Kolisi said the tempo of their game would be vital.
“We all saw how they came back last week, so we know how big this challenge is going to be,” said Kolisi.
“That said, all we can focus on is our intensity and how we start the game. We know it will take a strong 80-minute effort.”
The match kicks off at 19h30 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
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