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Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids, lock Marvin Orie and centre Andre Esterhuizen spoke highly of the Wallabies on Monday as they returned to the training field to prepare for Saturday’s opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, saying they expected a titanic battle.

The clash will mark the first Test of the 2023 season for both teams, and all three individuals agreed that this match and the Castle Lager Rugby Championship as a whole, would mark an important stepping-stone as they gear up for the Rugby World Cup in France in September and October.

“Eddie (Jones – Australian head coach) is a coach who understands the importance of set piece dominance in Test rugby,” said Davids. “So, it will be a titanic battle in the set pieces, scrums, and mauls.

“It will also be important for us to play in the right areas of the field and execute our kicking game and defensive plan well.

“They’ll be up for this challenge,and looking at their team they have a good balance of experienced and talented young players.”

Orie also anticipated a tough battle, saying: “They have very good players from No 1 to No 8, so they’ll come out guns blazing.

“That said, we’ve had a good few weeks of training where the focus has been on ourselves. We have a few more days before the first Test so we’ll look at their strengths as well.”

Esterhuizen echoed their sentiments and said: “Australia always come to South African shores wanting to make a statement, so we’re expecting a hard match. They’ll certainly come well prepared and maybe have one or two things up their sleeve.”

Of the high expectations by the public on the team to win their opening match of the year with an eye on the World Cup, Davids said: “As a team we’d like to win every game. For us it’s about the passion for the team and the country, and we want to build momentum for the World Cup at the same time.”

Esterhuizen said the atmosphere in the camp was good with their first Test only a few days away, and he hoped the match would set the tone for the rest of this vital season.

“The communication between the players and coaches is very good,” said Esterhuizen. “We’ve had a productive three weeks together, so everyone knows our goals and plans, and the team is happy.”

Esterhuizen added: “This [the Castle Lager Rugby Championship] is a stepping-stone in the right direction for the end goal [the Rugby World Cup], but our main goal right now is this competition.”

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will announce his match-day squad to face Australia on Tuesday.


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