Argentina is a proud rugby nation and will be determined to reverse the result in Port Elizabeth when the two teams meet again in Salta on Saturday, according to Springbok flank Jaco Kriel.
The Springboks opened their Castle Lager Rugby Championship account on Saturday with a 37-15 triumph over the Pumas in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, scoring four tries in the process. The sides meet again this weekend, this time on Argentine turf in Salta.
“Going back home, they will be very determined and physical in front of their own passionate fans, so we have to be prepared for a huge onslaught and tough contest,” said Kriel.
The Bok flanker, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday, said that mental toughness will be an important aspect of the squad’s preparation: “The smaller, harder field in Salta will make no difference to our approach.
“We all know we have to be mentally prepared and as a player, you cannot let the conditions, the venue or anything else get into your head. We have to focus on the job and continue with our processes.”
Looking back on Saturday’s victory over the Pumas, Kriel said the team enjoyed the win in front of a packed Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“Our environment is great, the players are enjoying each other and I think the supporters can see that,” said Kriel, who captained the Emirates Lions in the latter stages of Vodacom Super Rugby and also celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday.
“At the Boks, we are all brothers that care and we all enjoyed the occasion on Saturday in Port Elizabeth. The people of PE were awesome, but now we have to move on and focus on the next job.”
Meanwhile, team doctor Konrad von Hagen said scrumhalf Ross Cronje will continue his recovery at the Xerox Golden Lions after he sustained an ankle injury on Saturday. Cronje will not travel with the squad to Argentina on Wednesday and has already been replaced by Jano Vermaak of DHL Western Province.
“We sent Ross for a scan, which showed ligament tear,” said Dr. Von Hagen.
“We decided it would be better for him to recover at his province in Johannesburg because we have a short turn-around time for the next match, which also involves a lot of traveling.”
The Springboks continued with their preparations in Port Elizabeth on Monday and the squad is set to fly to Argentina on Wednesday morning. Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, will name his match 23 on Thursday.