Pumas and Boks in push for World Cup third

Published : 10:06 am  October 30, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (593) reads | 

Untitled-1It might not be the end to the year either side wanted, but Argentina and South Africa have vowed to give their all in the World Cup third-place play-off.
The likes of New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose defending champions will contest the final after beating South Africa 20-18 last weekend, have questioned the worth of the match at London’s Olympic Stadium.
And after seeing his side beaten by the All Blacks, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said of the bronze final:  “It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister.” But having had a few days to reflect, Meyer — who has named his strongest available side — said:  “It is my task to get them in the right frame of mind after the disappointment of last weekend and to ensure we bounce back with a good win after a tough week.” Veteran lock Victor Matfield will captain the team in probably his last appearance for the Springboks.
The 38-year-old Matfield, making his 127th Test appearance, replaces Fourie du Preez as skipper after the scrum-half suffered a tournament-ending injury against New Zealand.
Matfield, a World Cup-winner in 2007, has come in for Lood de Jager in the second row, with Ruan Pienaar taking over from du Preez in the only other change to the starting line-up.
Matfield retired after the 2011 World Cup but returned last year with the Bulls following encouragement from Meyer to resume his career.
Fellow 2007 World Cup-winner du Preez did not even make the bench after suffering a swollen eye and broken tooth against the All Blacks.
Du Preez, also persuaded to return by Meyer, said after the semi-final that it was probably his last Springbok appearance.
De Jager, who started that match, has been struggling with a foot tendon injury. He is now among the replacements, with Rudy Paige the reserve scrum-half following Pienaar’s promotion.
In August, Argentina achieved their first victory over South Africa with a 37-25 win in Durban.
 “The Pumas have made massive strides in recent years and we’ve experienced first-hand how tough an opponent they can be,” said Meyer, who also presided over the Springboks’ shock 34-32 defeat by Japan in their Pool opener — the biggest upset in World Cup history.
Meanwhile Argentina will be looking to equal their best World Cup finish of third at the 2007 edition.