Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss on Friday said they needed to lift their standards by a few notches in their Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Salta on Saturday.
Having trailed 13-10 in Nelspruit last weekend at halftime, the Boks required 17 points in the final 12 minutes to edge Argentina 30-23 last weekend.
“We travelled quite well, and we had a great week of preparation, I must say,” said Strauss on Friday.
“We had good training sessions on the field, sorted out detail during our video sessions in a technical sense, so I feel we are very well-prepared.
“We stayed in Buenos Aires until Thursday before we moved on to Salta, where we will have another session on Friday, but I’m very excited about the weekend, and to be honest we just need to better in everything that we do and lift the standards even more,” he said.
It will Strauss’ fifth Test as Bok skipper in his 59th Test and warned about the rise of Argentina.
“The Argentinians have been semifinalists in World Cups before, and they have done it a couple of times. They’re a rugby force and not a building nation.
“It will be a massive Test match away from home for us in their own backyard, and we know they are a passionate nation, they will come with a backlash as well.
“But we want to be better, and we have prepared quite well like I mentioned, and we are ready for a great Test match on Saturday.”
The team and Milestones:
- The total Test caps in the starting line-up is 432 – 160 caps in the backline with 272 among the forwards. The combined Test caps of those on the bench is 95. The average caps per player for the 23 is 19.
- Adriaan Strauss will be captaining the side for the fifth time in his 59th test.
- The youngest player in the 23 man squad is Jesse Kriel (22y, 5m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 2m).
- The tallest player in the squad is Lood de Jager (2.05m), the shortest is Faf de Klerk (1.72m), the heaviest is Steven Kitshoff (125kg) and the lightest is Faf de Klerk (80kg).
- The following players will play in their fifth consecutive Test in the starting XV under Allister Coetzee: Lionel Mapoe, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Francois Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira.
- For 60% of the squad it will be a first visit to Argentina to play in a Championship Test match. Lourens Adriaanse and Bongi Mbonambi are the two players who have not faced Argentina in a Test match yet.
- Bryan Habana is the most capped Springbok (13 Tests) as well as the top try scorer (7) for South Africa against Argentina while Morné Steyn is the top points scorer with 15 conversions and 16 penalty goals for a total of 78 career points in only six appearances against the Pumas.
- Bryan Habana, Eben Etzebeth, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira are the only players that played in all eight Castle Lager Rugby Championship Tests against Argentina since they joined the tournament in 2012.
- Bryan Habana needs one try to extend his own tournament career record to 20 which will be 100 tournament career points. One try will also extend his own World record for most test tries as a wing to 65. He needs two appearances in this tournament to reach 50 tournament appearances.
- Eben Etzebeth will play in his 26th consecutive Test match.
- Tendai Mtawarira will play in his 80th Test match thereby equalling Os du Randt’s record for most Test matches as a prop for the Springboks.
- Morné Steyn needs six points to reach 700 career points in Test matches. He also needs six successful penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 148 penalty goals in Test matches. Only two points will bring his Castle Lager Rugby Championship career points to 350. He is also co-record holder with four drop goals in his Rugby Championship career, with Dan Carter of New Zealand and fellow Springbok André Pretorius.
- Possible Castle Lager Rugby Championship debuts for Bongi Mbonambi, Lourens Adriaanse and Rudy Paige, should they be used off the bench.
Head to head:
- South Africa and Argentina will play in their ninth encounter since Argentina joined the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in 2012.
Of the previous eight, South Africa won six with one match drawn and a loss in Durban last year, the first ever loss against Argentina.
- The record is as follows: Played 8, Won 6, Lost 1, Drawn 1, Points for 239, Points against 149, Tries for 24, Tries against 13, Average score 30-19.
- The match officials for this match are: Referee – Jérôme Garcès (France); Assistant referees – Glen Jackson (New Zealand) and Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) with the TMO Glenn Newman (New Zealand).
- It will be Garcès’ eighth appearance as referee in Test matches involving South Africa. Of the previous seven Tests, the Springboks lost four and won three.
- Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena’s seating capacity is 20 408.
The Springbok’s only played here once before in 2014. They narrowly won the match 33-31 with Morné Steyn slotting a penalty goal in the 77th minute. The 33 points are the most in three Castle Lager Rugby Championship Tests in Argentina.
- The scorers on that occasion were: Tries – Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks and Marcell Coetzee. Conversions – Handré Pollard and Morné Steyn (2). Penalty goals: Pollard (3) and Steyn.