Springbok head coach Peter de Villiers says his side are in a great mood as they step up their preparations for the three-match Test series against the Lions.
The world champions came together on Monday ahead of this weekend’s clash with a Namibian XV in Windhoek.
The Friday night fixture is the Boks’ only warm-up match prior to the first Test against Ian McGeechan’s tourists on June 20 and de Villiers insists that he is more than happy with the way his squad is progressing.
”The mood has been good since we assembled in Tshwane on Monday and we have had a few good training sessions here,” said the man charged with helping South Africa erase painful memories of their series defeat to the Lions 12 years ago.
”The intensity has been good and I am happy. We still have a few players with niggles but they are being managed to ensure that they are available and fit when we face the Lions.”
As well as monitoring the aforementioned ‘niggles’, de Villiers has also been forced to do without a number of star players this week due to Saturday’s Super 14 final between the Bulls and the Chiefs.
The likes of Pierre Spies, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana will all be missing in Windhoek but de Villiers insists that their absence will give plenty of his fringe players an opportunity to impress ahead of the first Test in Durban.
”It seems like ages ago that we began talking about the visit to South Africa of the British & Irish Lions,” added de Villiers.
”Now they are in our midst and preparing for the opening match of their first tour to our shores in 12 years.
”Whilst they go about their business, we are busy with preparing a South African XV for a practice match against a Namibian Invitation XV in Windhoek this week. Although we do not have a full complement of players available with the Bulls playing in the Super 14 final, we are working at getting as much as we possibly can from the Namibian game. This is our primary focus at this stage.
”We have included a few new faces into our group who we believe have potential and we will have an opportunity this week to see how they fit into our structures. The practice match will enable the established players in our group to get back together after several months with their Super 14 franchises.
”On Monday next week, we will name the Springbok squad for the Castle South Africa 2009 Lions Series as well as the Emerging Springboks team that will face the Lions in a mid-week match later in the tour. From there we will begin to up our intensity in the build-up to the crucial first Test.”