South Africa lock Victor Matfield has dismissed suggestions their Tri-Nations clash with Australia is a dead rubber, despite the Springboks having nothing left to play for.
Peter de Villiers’ men have no chance of winning the Tri-Nations after four defeats in their last five matches, but Matfield insists there will be plenty at stake at Coca Cola Park in Johannesburg this weekend.
“We’ve got a really great record and it always feels great to play a Test at this venue,” he said.
“No Test match is a dead rubber. Even though there will be no trophies to be won on Saturday, we have to show we are on the right track.
“There’s still the end-of-year tour to come and we don’t want to go on that trip thinking about whether we should change things or worry if things are working or not.
“We want to get some confidence out of this game and to do that we will have to make the most of the opportunities we create. We have to turn those opportunities into points.”
Matfield added: “We’ve done a lot of things right, but then we have done a lot of work on the breakdown and also looked to improve our decision-making. When to force the pass, when to take the ball up through two more rucks – those are the kinds of calls you have to make on the park.”
The Boks will have to draw on their impressive record of 29 wins from 41 Tests at the Johannesburg ground to ease the pressure on De Villiers.
The team were booed off the pitch following last weekend’s 27-15 defeat to the Wallabies and the coach has been widely criticised for the expansive approach he has adopted.
“We need to win this game for South Africa, the coaching staff and all those involved with the Boks,” Matfield added.
“We only beat (Australia) last year by two drop goals so yes, they are a tough side to beat. We weren’t surprised by their physicality last week.”