Rugby Championship News

Hougaard: ‘We know we can do it’





The Springboks may have been written off as “no-hopers” and “second-stringers”, but fly-half Derick Hougaard says there is an air of quiet confidence in the team and a belief that they are good enough.

Speaking from the team’s base in Sydney, ahead of their crucial Tri-Nations encounter with Australia on Saturday, Hougaard said that it is with “mixed emotions” that they are approaching the game.

“Yes, we spoke about it this week,” he said when asked about all the disparaging remarks in the media since the tour squad was revealed last week.

“However, there’s only two players [in the squad] who have not played Test rugby, so any guy can slot in and play a great game.

“The guys know they are good enough.

“It is not a group of unknowns and new players who have not been involved in the system … we have been there,” Hougaard said.

They are also not being distracted by all the media hype surrounding their so-called ‘B-Team’ status.

“It is really great to be here in Australia and the guys are having a great time.

“They know it is a big privilege to play for their country and we must just go out an enjoy every moment,” the Bok number 10 added.

He also dismissed the suggestion that South Africa will be at a disadvantage because they have not played any matches together as a unit and would have been together for only two weeks when Saturday’s test arrives.

“It is really exciting. We had our first practice in Australia [last] Thursday and it is surprising how quickly the guys clicked.

“If you think about it logically, we should be at a disadvantage when compared to the Bok team [at least the bulk of the players that stayed behind in South Africa] that have been building together for four years and now we [those on tour] have to get it together in just two weeks.

“They expect the world from us, but the guys are looking forward to the challenge and the guys are living for the challenge.

“They will be up for it on Saturday,” Hougaard said.

There is another motivating factor for the travelling South Africans – the 10-odd World Cup places Bok coach Jake White said are up for grabs.

However, Hougaard feels that focussing on the next two weeks – Tri-Nations encounters with the Wallabies (in Sydney this Saturday) and the All Blacks (in Christchurch a week later) – is more important than worrying about World Cup spots.

“I have seen that you can’t take anything for granted in life and to play for South Africa is just a bonus … it is not anybody’s right,” he said of his long absence from the national squad – having played against Samoa and New Zealand at the 2003 World Cup and then watching from the Test rugby sidelines for almost four years.

Ironically he returned to the Green and Gold club against Samoa last month.

“Obviously you think about it and would like to know that your are in the running for the World Cup, but there is a much bigger picture.

“We have two very important Saturdays ahead of us and what happens after that will be a bonus.

“I don’t want to think too far ahead.

“Obviously you want to play great rugby and if you produce two good performances in the next fortnight your certainly won’t be harming your [World Cup] chances, but it is also very important that we perform well as a team and the individuals who get their [World Cup ] call-ups will get called up.

“Anything after that it is all a bonus,” Hougaard said.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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