Springbok captain Victor Matfield on Friday said his team’s aim is to start the Rugby Championship on a winning note while keeping one eye on the Rugby World Cup later this year. The Springboks finished a shorter-than-usual week in Australia with a light captain’s run in very windy conditions at Brisbane Grammar School on Friday afternoon. The Test venue, Suncorp Stadium, where the captain’s run normally takes place, was not available as English football club Liverpool are in town and will be playing local club Brisbane Roar there on Friday evening.
Matfield laughed when asked how it felt to be sharing the team hotel with Liverpool: ‘It’s quite different walking out of the hotel and to see all these fans dressed in red staring at you, looking to see Liverpool – they really have a lot of fans.’ On a more serious note, Matfield said the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup preparations started a few weeks ago and that Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies will be a good opportunity to see where the team stands: ‘Our goal is to win. We have trained hard and worked very hard on our fitness levels, which we will on-going, every day. And while we have been working very hard towards the Rugby World Cup, this is a big Test in itself and that is where our focus is for now. We need to see where we stand as a team and where we need to make changes looking at the World Cup, but for now our aim is to go out and win this Test and the Rugby Championship. We will be very happy if we can get a good win here tomorrow as it will give us confidence and create a nice vibe for next few weeks, but if things don’t go that well, at least we have enough time to fix things before World Cup.’
Matfield said the Springboks are expecting a massive onslaught from a big and physical Wallaby pack: ‘Michael Cheika likes a big and physical pack, like he’s done at the Waratahs, and he’s selected one for tomorrow, opting against picking two openside flankers. They will look to dominate the advantage line and our challenge is to stop their big ball carriers, because they will be very dangerous if they get momentum.’