Master Matfield out to school Kruger

Springbok captain Victor Matfield is expecting a tough lineout battle against Juandré Kruger at Newlands on Saturday, reports SIMON BORCHARDT.

Matfield played with and coached Kruger at the Bulls, so the two know each other well. When asked about their master-pupil relationship, Matfield laughed and said he hoped they were still somewhere in the middle of it and not at the end.

'I've put a lot of hours into Juandré,' he said, 'and it was great to see how well he did in the lineouts for the Bulls last year. It's going to be a tough battle because he knows how I think, but I also know how he thinks.'

Matfield will be making his first appearance for the Boks since the 2011 World Cup quarter-final loss to the Wallabies, and will be joined in the second row by close friend and long-time Bok team-mate Bakkies Botha.

'On Tuesday, I was sitting next to Bakkies at the back of the bus and said to him that we never thought we'd be here again,' said Matfield. 'But it's not about me and Bakkies, it's about the team, and we want to show that we can make a difference to this team.'

World XV coach Nick Mallett said earlier this week that his side would be taking the game seriously, which didn't come as a surprise to Matfield.

'When Nick and I were at the Barbarians I remember how much he wanted to win. He told Matt Giteau that he would take him off if he played too much inside his own half! I don't think he will let the World XV throw the ball around too much, although I'm sure they'll have a go if the game gets loose.

'The [Bok] coaches have already done a lot of work on Wales [who South Africa play next weekend] but the players are focused on this match against the World XV,' he added. 'There are a few things we want to get in place, and while it's not a Test, we are still putting on the Bok jersey. We want to get back into last year's structures and develop them.' 

Matfield also praised the Junior Boks for beating the Baby Blacks at the Junior World Championship earlier in the day.

'It's special for any team to go to New Zealand and beat New Zealand,' he said. 'The more players win there, the more their belief grows. Having won in New Zealand, these players will go there next time believing they have a 50-50 chance of winning and not 10%.' 

Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

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Simon Borchardt