Fourie du Preez says the Springboks have to adapt to the referee's breakdown interpretations in the quarter-final against Wales on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI.
History counts for nothing. This was the message put forward by Du Preez at the captain’s media conference on Friday. Come kick-off at Twickenham, both teams will start at zero.
It won’t matter that the Boks have won 27 of the 30 Tests between the two teams. It won’t matter that Wales won the most recent meeting in Cardiff.
What will matter is how the Boks handle the challenge of the Welsh over the next 80 minutes. And, as the Bok captain said, they must be mindful of how referee Wayne Barnes is managing the game.
‘Anything can happen at this stage of the competition,’ Du Preez said. ‘Whatever has happened in the past won’t count. We’ve prepared well for this match, now it’s about putting those plans into practice on the day.
‘We have to adapt to the referee. That’s what we’ve learned from the 2011 quarter-final [against Australia, a match shaped by the refereeing of Bryce Lawrence]. Our preparation was very good ahead of that match, but then we didn’t adapt to the referee on the day.’
Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan believes that South Africa are in a good space ahead of the quarter-final. He praised their improvement over the past three games, and said it stands them in good stead for the challenge against Wales.
‘When we went into this tournament, two of our buzzwords were “composure” and “adaptability”,’ Van Graan said. ‘I think we’ve shown that through the way we’ve adapted both on and off the field [since the loss to Japan].
‘The way the team has adapted since losing two captains to injuries [Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield] has been excellent. The team has really got behind Fourie. The seniors have been fantastic and younger guys like Handré Pollard and Lood de Jager have really stepped up.
‘We’ve had a good week of training, but at the same time we know this is a new game with a new ref, and the players now need to adapt. I can’t wait to see how the team goes at Twickenham.’
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