Bongi expects Wales to bring the heat
... but hooker reminds of potency of this Bok team travelling to Cardiff
Given their overall record against Wales, it is no stretch to suggest the Springboks have underperformed against the Dragons in the last while.
They have lost on their last four visits to Cardiff and have won just two of their last seven Tests against Wales.
Significantly though, the two wins came when it really mattered in the knockout stages of the 2015 and 2019 editions of the Rugby World Cup.
“We haven't done well there,” Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi reiterated. “We are working hard to rectify that. It is never easy up here. It is something we are talking about in the meetings. Jacques (Nienaber, the head coach) has brought it up. We don't focus on it that much. We are a process-driven team.”
Boks have fielded weakened teams
Some of those defeats in Cardiff and the one in Washington at the start of Rassie Erasmus's stint as head coach came with the Springboks deprived of some of their top players.
Some of the defeats in Cardiff came partly as a result of the matches being played outside the international window, with the Boks denied the use of their northern hemisphere-based players.
The Boks who will jet into Cardiff at the weekend are more or less the real McCoy and Mbonambi is rather enthused by the squad.
“We have a fully-packed Springbok side because we are playing within the international window. It will be a more experienced SA team,” he said.
While the Boks are more likely to bring their A-game than some of their recent forerunners, the Dragons too will have cause to get their tails up.
The 2-1 series defeat the British & Irish Lions suffered in SA earlier this year may ignite some fire in the hosts' belly.
Lions' series defeat will linger
“They will be hurting because of the British and Irish Lions' defeat on their tour,” said Mbonambi. “We actually had their team up and we saw how many British & Irish Lions are in that team. We are expecting a massive sting from their side. They will definitely bring the heat,” said the hooker.
The clashes against Wales of late have generally been tight affairs. Just one scoreline in the last eight Tests produced a double digit winning margin.
“Wales are always a tough team to beat, especially when they play at home. Our record in Cardiff hasn't been one of the best. I know we beat them in the World Cup but playing them at home, they are a totally a different side,” said Mbonambi.
He noted the Welsh are a resilient side. “They are tough to beat and they are a team that doesn't just go away. They have a good aerial game. Their forwards are quite tough and they have a good backline. We will definitely be put to the test. We had this week and we have next week to get our ducks in a row and prepare for a battle in Cardiff.”