x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

'We are not the champions yet'

The South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has told his players not to assume they are certain to win this year's Tri Nations.

BRISBANE// The South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has told his players not to assume they are certain to win this year's Tri Nations. The world champions, who play Australia in Brisbane on Saturday, need just two points from their final two games to seal their first title since 2004. With three points for a victory, and a potential fourth for scoring four tries, that might seem like a sure thing.

But De Villiers, who has seeing his team win their first four games, including a 32-25 victory over the Wallabies last weekend, said: "We have not won the Tri Nations title yet and there are still two tough games to play," he said. "We are focusing on the immediate task at hand and that is to do well against Australia. "We do not chase records, but strive to improve on each and every performance. This team can still get much, much better and is playing winning rugby whilst still making errors.It excites me when I think of what these players could still do on the field."

Odwa Ndungane replaces JP Pietersen on the wing in the only change to the Boks' starting line-up after Pietersen suffered a hamstring injury in the win over Australia in Perth. Danie Rossouw will replace the injured lock Andries Bekker on the bench after overcoming a shoulder injury. "Whilst we have a lot of versatile players in the squad, Odwa is the natural winger and was the first choice," said De Villiers.

"He has been running the moves with us for some time and is familiar with the defensive patterns so he should fit in pretty easily". Lock Bakkies Botha, who was replaced by Bekker last weekend, and wing Bryan Habana, who scored two tries in the match, were both selected despite having minor injury concerns. Habana trained yesterday, but Botha sat out the session, prompting De Villiers to call up Johann Muller as cover.

Meanwhile, Australia's selectors have run out of patience with their team, who have lost all four of their Tri Nations matches, and dropped five players. Scrumhalf Luke Burgess, hooker Stephen Moore, wing Peter Hynes, centre Ryan Cross and No 8 Richard Brown are all out of starting side for Saturday's match. Burgess, Moore and Hynes are relegated to the bench, with Cross and Brown left out of the squad altogether.

"It's a Test match and against the world's best team. That's not a prospect any of our blokes would take lightly," said the coach Robbie Deans. "Every time you put on your national jumper you want to do your best. That motivation doesn't change, regardless of the circumstance." * Reuters