x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Victor Matfield wants no excuses from Springboks

South Africa must impose their style of play on New Zealand if they are to beat them in the Tri Nations before heading to the World Cup to defend their title, says the side's stand-in captain.

Victor Matfield, left with Bryan Habana, wants a strong display from South Africa today.
Victor Matfield, left with Bryan Habana, wants a strong display from South Africa today.

South Africa must impose their style of play on New Zealand if they are to beat them in the Tri Nations before heading to the World Cup to defend their title, Victor Matfield, the side's stand-in captain, said yesterday.

Today's match in Port Elizabeth is Peter de Villiers side's final game before they take on Wales at the World Cup in New Zealand on September 11.

"We need to force our strong points on to them, rather than allowing them to force theirs on us," Matfield said.

"We believe in a certain style of play, for instance it will be nice to make them throw into a line-out once in a while.

"The last time we played them [New Zealand], I think there were just three line-outs in the whole game because they kept taking quick throws.

"The All Blacks like to play a high-tempo game and they are always very dangerous when the game gets a bit loose. It's still the ultimate test for the Springboks."

The lock was among a lengthy list of Springboks who missed the opening two matches of the Tri Nations because they were involved in a "rehabilitation camp".

Matfield and the rest of the front-line players returned to action last week as the South Africans gave a much-improved performance before going down 14-9 to Australia in Durban.

"There can't be excuses any more about rustiness, we need to be hard on ourselves," Matfield said. "Personally, I felt very good last week, the break was good because it allowed me to do some running, rather than physical contact."

Even if the Springboks win today, they will still finish at the bottom of the Tri Nations table having already lost three times.

Matfield, who is deputising for regular captain John Smit who is starting on the bench, said it was vital his team completed their Tri Nations campaign on a successful note before heading to the World Cup.

"It will be very difficult getting on the plane without a win. We need to start winning, getting confidence and momentum," he said.

"History is very important, but we need to focus on what is ahead. We need to go the distance and get our confidence and the belief of the public back.

"Even though the Tri Nations is gone for us, every test is important, it doesn't matter whether you're playing for a cup or not. You have to take a step up, put in a special effort, otherwise you're not worthy of the jersey. After the haka, it should be a fantastic game."