Boks want to leave a lingering impression in Padua
Saturday’s clash against Italy may be the Springboks’ third of four Tests on this European tour‚ but it is the end of the road for now for No8 Duane Vermeulen‚ flyhalf Elton Jantjies‚ flank Francois Louw and lock Franco Mostert.
Next week’s Test against Wales falls outside the November Test window and their respective clubs have first dabs at their services.
A good sendoff for the quartet is on the wishlist‚ certainly if captain Eben Etzebeth has anything to do with it.
“It would be nice to send them off to Japan and Europe with a victory‚ to give them a good Springbok memory‚” said Etzebeth‚ typically economical with his choice of words.
But there was a little more. “We’re looking forward to this game. It’s the second-last match of the year. For some‚ who will go back to their clubs next week‚ it’s the last Test. In that way‚ it’s special.”
For some it will present the opportunity to make a lasting impression. Who knows what the team’s coaching structure might look like next season.
It will be particularly pertinent to flyhalf Jantjies. Whatever time the substitute gets on the field he’ll have to maximise. His talents haven’t shone through on this tour but against Italy‚ especially if the Boks get a semblance of dominance up-front‚ he could have a stage.
Vermeulen too‚ who comes off his contract with his club Toulon at the end of the current season‚ can leave a lingering impression of his value to this squad.
There may yet be a greater role for him to play in the Bok setup next year.
The Italian team is certainly expecting a Springbok team more fired up than the one they beat for the first time last year.
“It will be a very‚ very tough game. They are a better team than a year ago. But so are we‚” said Italy coach Conor O’Shea.
His team are also looking for a boost following a string of disappointing results. They’ve only beaten Fiji since winning against the Boks last year.
“Against Argentina we delivered a good performance‚ but we had difficulties in our execution. I'm sure we can be very competitive against the Springboks if our focus is right.
“The Springboks are a great team‚ more than a month ago they were about to beat New Zealand. It is true that they have struggled a lot against Ireland but they beat France last week.
“But‚ as always‚ we have to think about ourselves‚ our performance‚ and not the opponents. We have great players in every position‚ just like them. We will have to repeat the high levels of performance from last week. We do however have to retain focus in the right moments‚” said O’Shea.