Mzwandile Stick says the Springboks are determined to pitch up on Saturday when they dive into the Buenos Aires cauldron against Argentina in their final Test before the World Cup squad is named.
The Springboks will take on Los Pumas with a heavily rotated matchday squad, which will be captained for the first time by Bongi Mbonambi and includes a potential debut for loosehead prop Gerhard Steenekamp.
Stick said the Boks were are driven to produce a quality performance as they build toward the World Cup, and to make it a memorable day for Mbonambi and Steenekamp.
“The important thing for us is to improve on the way we want to play and to give ourselves a strong foundation before the World Cup,” said Stick.
“There’s a lot we want to improve on, but the message is clear, we have to pitch up on the day. We are expecting a hostile game in front of a passionate crowd, so it’s going to be brutal.”
Saturday’s match will be the final Test before Jacques Nienaber names the 33-man World Cup squad on Tuesday.
While plenty of players will be eager to put their hands up in a final audition, Stick said there has been no extra pressure put on them this week.
“I wouldn’t like to put any pressure on players when it comes to their performance and the squad being decided on one game. As a coaching staff, we’ve been working on selecting the squad for the World Cup for the past three years.
“I wouldn’t put it that way, that if a guy has a bit of an off-day it will determine his squad selection. We have been working very hard to be fair to everyone, to rotate the squad and give everyone an opportunity, so that when we select the squad, the majority of players have had a fair chance.
“If a player doesn’t perform on Saturday, the chance won’t be gone for him. You can’t select a World Cup squad based on one game.”
When Nienaber named the starting lineup for Saturday’s match, the Bok head coach mentioned that they would be initially travelling with five extra players for the final two warm-up matches against Wales and New Zealand.
Stick said that even if some of the players involved on Saturday don’t get the nod for the World Cup, they should not be too dismayed.
“Sometimes you are going to get injuries. Look back at 2019, Trevor Nyakane and Jesse Kriel got injuries just before the World Cup. Currently, we’ve been proactive in having those five extra guys who are going to travel with us, some of them have been with us for the past four years.
“History tells us that there will be injuries. I know one thing for sure, those guys who don’t make the 33-man squad, they will keep working and will deserve a chance. That will help us. Look back at 2011, when the All Blacks won with their fourth flyhalf. That tells you that injuries will always be part of the game.
“I’m not wishing anyone bad luck, but it’s part of the game. But if it does happen, we will be ready and have guys who are good enough to represent the country.”
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