Springboks not taking US lightly despite opening day horror show
The South African Springboks turned the intensity up another notch yesterday during their second workout since arriving in Bermuda, not so much with an eye toward tomorrow night's encounter against the United States (8.15 p.m.) but Friday's all-important clash against New Zealand.The Springboks got their first peek at the All Blacks during New Zealand's 70-5 drubbing of the Eagles on Sunday, a horror show that left a look of panic on their faces not unlike a small child who has lost sight of his mother on a busy street.Members of the South African squad sat together at the western end of the National Sports Club pitch, with several of them expressing more than a little dismay at how easily the All Blacks chewed up the Eagles.Rudie Visagie, the towering lock who earned four caps for the Springboks a decade ago, was actually more surprised than bewildered although some All Blacks wondered whether it was all just a ploy to downplay the strength of the South Africans.Reminded Kiwi skipper Andy Haden: "The Australians took two or three years to adjust to the tournament. We always told them it's not a holiday here.'' "I'm actually very surprised,'' Rudie Visagie said in the early stages of the second half after New Zealand jumped out to a 40-5 lead. "We came here with not that strong a side. We weren't sure what to expect, I mean I'm very surprised to see what's happening here. Most of those guys can still play for the current All Blacks.'' By late yesterday Springbok skipper Craig Jamieson was buoyed by the news that many of his players had recovered from Saturday's tough three-hour workout which left several of them with assorted aches and pains.The team will get together again today for a final practice before making their grand entrance."As far as we're concerned our team is a very new team, a lot of us don't even know each other, let alone played together,'' said Jamieson yesterday."So we've got a lot to learn, that's why we had a long practice session.Basically we just want to get more coordinated, I think we've got talented players so it's a case of getting on that field and performing up to the standard that they can.'' What the Springboks could be meeting is a red-faced United States squad determined to make amends for an horrific opening day. Jamieson, for one, expects the Eagles to be better prepared and said it's highly unlikely they'll surrender 14 tries in one game again."I think they're going to be different because they haven't had the opportunity to really play yet and they're going to be dying to play because they've been humiliated to a degree,'' said Jamieson."(New Zealand) played superbly, I didn't believe they could play as good as that. Their ball retention skills were outstanding and if a team is doing that and you're not getting possession it's difficult to play the game you want to.But there's ways of countering that and we've got to look to that.'' Jamieson agreed the game against the Eagles was "vital for us and they've got some good players and the things that one did see occasionally, well, there's some talent there.'' Because of South Africa's isolation from the rugby world for so many years the Springboks may be a little more inexperienced than the other squads, but they will want to avoid falling into the same quagmire as the Eagles did against New Zealand."Our driving play would have been better (than the Eagles),'' said out-half Errol Tobias, the first black to play for the Springboks. "We would have made the New Zealand forwards work harder and that would have swung the game around the other way.'' Said Rudie Visagie: "Rugby is very unpredictable, but I would have kicked the ball more up field. But it's difficult to play in a tournament like this. The ball is not round so it can go anywhere.'' Eagles' skipper Brian Vizard plans to make some alterations to his line-up and will obviously test some of his new theories at a workout today."I think we'll try to spread things around a little bit more,'' he said."But there's not a whole lot of time to change too much."I told the guys I'm proud of what they did so far and I'm hoping South Africa won't pose the challenge that New Zealand did.'' England, meanwhile, will play their first match of the tournament tomorrow (7 p.m.) against Bermuda, who are also hoping to rebound from an opening day loss.WELCOME ABOARD -- The Springboks, who make their Classic debut tomorrow night, have spent the last few days practicing and enjoying the tournament's social events. On Sunday Sports Minister Pamela Gordon welcomed the team to Bermuda at a special breakfast organised for the team. Bottom row: Gawin Visagie, Divan Serfontein, Humphrey Njoko, Desmond Booysen, Irvin October. Back row: Errol Tobias, Burger Gledenbuys, Hugh Reece Edwards, Carel Du Plessis, Japie Wessels, Rudie Visagie, Aslam Toefy, Deon Lotter, Pamela Gordon, Nick Mallet, Aubrey Pogenpoel, Derek Van Den Bergh, Iowa Abrahams, Rob Hankinson, Nick Lackschagne, Charles Kleinbooi, Archie Mkele, Craig Jamieson. Missing: Willie Khats and Hennie Shields.