Bryan Habana issues warning to South Africa rivals
South Africa today began the final week of preparation before launching their world title defence, with star wing Bryan Habana declaring: "We are here for business."
Habana and company will make history if they retain the trophy won at England's expense in Paris four years ago.
Back-to-back World Cup triumphs have proved a task beyond all six previous tournament winners.
And while the Springboks - like 18 other countries - are given little hope by the bookmakers of halting runaway favourites New Zealand, Habana delivered an emphatic mission statement.
"The pressure we put on ourselves as Springboks is more than anyone else puts on us," he said.
"We want to go out there and make sure we do our country proud.
"We are here for a task, and that is first of all to beat Wales next Sunday and then to carry on hopefully winning for the next six games to win a World Cup.
"We will definitely enjoy the experience that New Zealand has to offer, but we are here for business, not pleasure, and we are looking forward to getting on with business."
The Springboks have settled into their central Wellington base - it is barely five minutes' walk from the Wales team hotel - with their send-off from South Africa still resonating.
"When 65,000 people say goodbye to you it's very difficult," Habana added.
"And when you get greeted by the President (Jacob Zuma) and he tells you to bring the cup back, he expects you to bring the cup back."
It is against such a backdrop of expectancy that South Africa will encounter a Wales side not short on confidence following their impressive World Cup warm-up series last month.
Although history heavily favours the Springboks - they have suffered a solitary defeat in 25 Tests against Wales since 1906 - the last three encounters were won by a combined margin of just 12 points.
And with Samoa and Fiji - familiar World Cup opponents for South Africa - also in the Springboks' pool, there will be little respite in the race for a quarter-final place.
"Playing Wales is a great challenge for first up," said Habana, who needs one try to pass Joost van der Westhuizen's Springboks Test record of 38 career touchdowns.
"The Welsh are one of the most passionate and fiery sides in world rugby, and they bring a good challenge to the table.
"Everything since the New Zealand game (in the Tri Nations) has been focused on Wales. They are a tough unit.
"And I am not sure why we always get drawn with the Pacific islanders in a World Cup, but it's a great challenge. They are great rugby-playing nations.
"In Marseille in 2007, at 20-20 (against quarter-final opponents Fiji), it actually felt like we were playing in Fiji. So the smaller teams always get quite a bit of support, especially in New Zealand."
What the World Cup can expect from South Africa has been widely chronicled - traditional power up front and a relentless kicking game built around their half-backs Morne Steyn and Fourie du Preez.
It is a simple but often effective approach, and one that Habana admits is unlikely to deviate from a tried-and-tested routine.
"I definitely think we're going to play to our strengths, to what has worked for us," he added.
"It's worked in the past, so we are not going to do anything drastically different to the last couple of years.
"I've been chasing a lot of kicks for a while now, so I don't think that is going to change. We play towards our strengths, and our strength has been a great kicking game."
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