Captain Victor Matfield believes the Springboks' fitness levels have improved. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
After a hit-out against the World XV last weekend, the Boks arrived in Brisbane late on Monday, Australian time, and will know that their fitness and conditioning will be tested during the latter stages of Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test.
The Wallabies will be looking to play the game at pace, and coach Michael Cheika has selected a strong bench including impact players such as livewire flank David Pocock, who will be looking to up the tempo in the second half.
Player conditioning has been a key focus for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer in the lead-up to the World Cup, and Matfield suggested Saturday’s match would present an opportunity for the team to demonstrate the progress that's been made in this area.
‘Winning is our only goal, we’ve trained hard and worked a lot on our fitness, and that’s something we’ll keep working on before the World Cup. That was the one area South African teams weren’t quite where Heyneke wanted them to be fitness-wise.
‘It’s not just about physicality, but work-rate is really important as well. With the way the game is played these days it’s all about speed, we’ve got that speed in our loose trio and guys who can play for 80 minutes.’
With the Stormers having been the only South African side to progress to the Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs this year, it did afford the Boks some extra time to prepare for the international season.
‘It’s never good to say we [South African teams] didn’t play in the knockout stage in Super Rugby, but that extra time was well spent,’ Matfield commented. ‘We worked really hard on our fitness levels and on getting the guys ready for the Rugby Championship.’
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