“Do what you’ve always done, only better”. This is ex-Springbok rugby players’ advice to the Boks, a few days before their first World Cup rugby match against Ireland.
These players believe South Africa can hold the Web Ellis trophy aloft again this year, provided the Boks keep their head and handle the pressure correctly.
“It’s all about how one can handle pressure and adapt to what the game throws at you on the day,” former Springbok eighth-man Pierre Spies told RNews. “There is nothing new that our team has to do. They just have to exercise the ability to function under pressure, have a very strong discipline and use the opportunities. If we follow that recipe, I’m sure we’ll be able to lift the cup again.”
Listen here to what Spies has to say about the Bokke’s World Cup:
Hennie le Roux, former Bok center and flyhalf, also says the pressure at the World Cup is incredibly high. “Especially the last few weeks are bad. The whole world is watching you.”
His advice to the Goats is to manage the anxiety well by focusing on the team’s need and strategy and not letting what happens outside the team affect them. “You also have to play with confidence and not question your place in the team. Now just focus on bringing the World Cup back home.”
Le Roux believes all the hard work has already been done. “We have proven we can compete at the highest level. I believe we have a good chance to win.”
The world-renowned Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha agrees. “The mistake that teams sometimes make is to change something that works. The Boks are in a very good place and play with great confidence. We are good enough to make it far in the World Cup, we just have to stick to what we already do well, and do it a little bit better.”
However, Botha does not think this year’s World Cup will be an easy win. “The standard is very high because the sport is now so professional and the players gain a lot of experience. Even the Island teams are not going to be easy opponents like in the past.”
He says the team has a lot of experienced players who know what lies ahead and how it feels to win.
And when one player has an off day? “That’s the advantage of a team sport. Then you have 14 other guys on the field to carry you. You just have to be smart enough to use the guys close to you.”
Le Roux says that despite the hard work that lies ahead, players must have a positive attitude and play with dedication. “Enjoy it, because it’s over in the blink of an eye.”