De Villiers warns against complacency

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has warned his players not to fall into the complacency trap despite starting as overwhelming favourites for the Test against Italy on Saturday. [more]

De Villiers warns against complacency

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has warned his players not to fall into the complacency trap despite starting as overwhelming favourites for the Test against Italy on Saturday.

Despite a forecast for cold and wet conditions at Newlands, the Springboks will be looking for a commanding performance as they wrap up their preparations for the Tri-Nations – which gets under way with two Tests against New Zealand next month.

De Villiers has made six changes to the South Africa side which enjoyed two wins in as many weeks over RBS 6 Nations champions Wales, but they are still expected to inflict defeat on the Azzurri on Saturday.

However, the coach is not taking anything for granted.

"Every side, no matter who they are, have strengths particular to themselves," he said.

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"In the case of Italy, they had the best scrum in the Six Nations series. They also used the drive from lineouts very effectively.
"This aspect in particular will bring a new dimension to us that we have not experienced this year."

De Villiers is also unconcerned about the weather forecast for Saturday’s match.

"We have no control over the weather," he added. "The team has been prepared for all occasions They must decide what they want to do when they run onto the field, I’m not going to be prescriptive."

The big question for the Boks is what sort of depth they have before the commencement of the Southern Hemisphere tournament.

Most of the attention is on the return of Schalk Burger at flank and the switch to fly-half of 20-year-old Frans Steyn, who became the youngest World Cup-winner last year at inside centre.

“I’ve chatted to Frans about it at length and he’s told me he wants to play 10,” De Villiers said after announcing his squad.

“But I also have to do what’s best for the country, and I’m glad to say this is a rugby decision.

“We have to start looking at what’s available. Butch is our number one fly-half, but we also have to manage him going forward.”

Visitors Italy have been robbed of 13 regulars and also boast a young squad – including former Australian Under-19 international Luke McLean, who will play fly-half for the Azzurri.

Italy coach Nick Mallett, who used to coach the Boks, said it was an almost impossible task to beat the world champions with this squad.

"If you do your maths, and know that South Africa beat Wales by 43 points (43-17, in Bloemfontein) and Wales beat Italy by 47 points (47-8 in Cardiff), even though Italy was at full strength, then it’s obviously a huge hurdle for this team to overcome this weekend," said Mallett.

"South African rugby players have generally, over the last three to four years, really improved their skills levels. The South African players haven’t lost out on physicality, or their ability to turn ball over.

"They are very aggressive in the contact situations, and at the same time even getting 50-50 opportunities of trying to get off-loads.

"It’s what New Zealand have been doing effectively, as well as Australia."

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