- Wits Rugby Head Coach and former high-performance player, Hugo van As spoke exclusively to Briefly News following the Springboks' recent Castle Lager Series win over the British & Irish Lions
- Van As praised the Springboks' management for the work they have done to ensure that team morale remains high despite a nearly two-year break from action
- The Boks now turn their attention to the Rugby Championship with the first of two matches against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha
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The Springboks' recent 2-1 series win against the British & Irish Lions has been a confidence booster as their mantle as Rugby World Cup champions was given a thorough examination.
The Boks will now turn their attention to the Rugby Championship with the first of two matches against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha starting on Saturday, 14 August.
With less than 24 hours to kick-off, former Transvaal senior rugby player for the Golden Lions of the late 90s and early 2000s, Hugo van As, who now plies his trade as the head coach of FNB Wits in the Varsity Cup, has expressed strong confidence in captain Siya Kolisi and his troops.
"Obviously, winning the series is very big for SA, an unbelievable performance against very difficult opponents and against a quality side," said van As in his sit-down with Briefly News.
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Boks need to keep eye on the prize
The high-performance coach, who knows everything about winning as a player, said it will be worthwhile for the Boks to stay hungry. In his 98 games for the 'Rooibontes', van As played in two Currie Cup finals and in the team that won the Lion Cup.
"I believe that one of the biggest challenges the Boks face is to stay hungry. After the World Cup, the [next] biggest arena to play on was vs the B&I Lions. Now, playing vs Argentina will be a difficult challenge if you look at the side that was selected.
"You would see that a couple of players are rested, which shows that the series was very hard. Luckily, Rassie [Erasmus] and Jacques [Nienaber] won’t allow players to get too comfortable.
The team were inactive for 20 months before playing a lead-up Test against Georgia in the Castle Lager Lions Series in July following their heroics in the World Cup final against England.
Lack of preparation not a factor
Van As expressed that he does not feel the nearly two-year break from action was a factor for South Africa in the closely-contested series. He praised the national senior side's management for ensuring that team morale remained high.
"Although the team was inactive for 20 months, the fact of the matter is that this team is very similar and consists of a lot of players that won the World Cup," said van As.
"What Jacques and Rassie did well was to knit the team together in a short time, again in a tight unit, that had the hunger and passion to play for their country and teammates.
"Springboks rugby is in a great space as world champs and in the series win against the B&I Lions. There is always room for improvement and Rassie and his coaches know what what it will take to keep this momentum going."
Kolisi speaks on the challenges Springboks faced in the Lions series
In related news, Briefly News previously reported on Kolisi's reflection of the huge hurdles his team faced in securing a historical series victory over the British & Irish Lions.
By defeating the Lions 19-16 in the deciding Test, his squad cemented their place in the pantheon of great Springboks sides while also reaping the benefits of being world champions.
With little time to prepare and positive Covid-19 cases within their ranks, the Boks kept their focus on the things that they could control and it was clear that they would not blame the virus if they fell short, per a SowetanLIVE report.
Source: Briefly News