The Springboks will want to make history by winning back to back Rugby Championship title for the very first time. The morale should be high in the Boks camp ahead of their opening championship match at home against Argentina in Gqeberha on Saturday.
This will be followed by an away fixture against the Pumas at the same venue a week later. The world champions will go into the encounter as overwhelming favourites after they came from behind to clinch the British and Irish Lions series 2-1.
South Africa won the Rugby Championship when they defeated Argentina 46-13 in the 2019 tournament final. If they manage to defend their title, this will add to their Rugby World Cup 2019 title.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made 10 changes to the team that won against the Lions, with only four players having retained their places in the starting 15.
Winger Sbu Nkosi emphasises that the Springboks cannot afford to underestimate Argentina.
“They are a very physical team I must say. They’ve got quite a good mix of athleticism and power you know very similar to what we bring to the table. So we expect them to confront us physically and you know and the battles you find against Argentina are different to the battles you would fight against the British and Irish Lions.
Just because of the makeup of their team we will expect them to be confident and we will expect them to stand their ground you know but we also made plans of our own”
Nkosi makes a return to the starting line-up after missing the entire Lions tour. Nkosi says he will grab the opportunity to play with both arms.
“The excitement hasn’t changed it’s pretty exciting for me to be here because there are a lot of people who are not here and wish to be here like coach explained a little bit earlier on; is that each week you’ve got a different responsibility. The way it’s gone in the past few weeks my responsibility has been to prepare the guys that is also exciting cause it can be someone else that is wearing those shoes you know.
Excitement hasn’t changed just the responsibility that has changed and I’m obviously looking forward to playing Argentina they are a very strong outfit they deserve all the respect that we can give them, and we will prepare with that in mind.”
Making a return
Also making a return to the starting 15 is Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies. Jantjies says despite not featuring in the British and Irish Lions tour, he still values his contribution in the Boks side on and off the field.
“When you been given an opportunity to wear green and gold is always special and this opportunity you should never take for granted. You as an individual you must try to stay as consistent as possible through your performances on and off the field to be able to be in this environment.
Like the guys said previously is that we as a group we’ve got certain roles when we play and certain roles when we don’t play so that makes the squad melt and that’s good for us,” says Jantjies.
Jantjies says it’s more about team effort than individual glory.
“I’ve said it many times when you are young you are very individually focussed. But as soon as you get more experience you become a little bit older you become more towards the team and you become a person that you actually want to know the players personal lives and this as an individual what he likes and what he doesn’t like so that whenever as guys you get onto the park you have something in common, you know how the guy plays and the way the guy loves to play”. Elton Jantjies added.
But Argentina cannot be taken lightly since the 2019 World Cup in Japan, they have only lost once out of seven test matches.