Springboks reject defeatist talk

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The Independent Online

Even to suggest South Africa might consider not going out to win a World Cup match, in order to manipulate who their quarter-final opponents are, is "preposterous", the Springboks' assistant coach, Gary Gold, said yesterday.

Conspiracy theories have abounded since Ireland's shock win over Australia last weekend, which resulted in the likely prospect of all three Tri-Nations teams being in the same side of the draw for the knockout phase.

The world champion Springboks are likely to top Pool D and will almost certainly face the Wallabies in the last eight but Gold said there were no circumstances in which they might go out to do anything less than win and try to alter their opponents.

"It would be preposterous to even to suggest otherwise, every World Cup winner in the past has won every game they have participated in the competition," he told reporters. "That's a key significant factor to winning. We realise that, that's why the Springboks over the last number of World Cups have an 88 per cent win record.

"Under no circumstances would it even be considered that anything else but winning right to the end is what's going to be required."

After a poor Tri-Nations campaign and a narrow win over Wales in their World Cup opener, South Africa hit their stride against Fiji with a 49-3victory in their second outing, producing a near-perfect performance.

Despite that, and the 105-13 victory over Namibia in their only previous meeting, Gold said that there was absolutely no complacency about facing their southern African neighbours in their third pool match in Albany today.

"We can't afford to take this game lightly, and I mean that in all sincerity," he added. "A lot of these guys know our guys, they know us more intimately than a lot of other people that we get to play in world rugby. Many of them play in South Africa, play club rugby in South Africa, some of them play provincial rugby in South Africa.

"These guys have got a point to prove, many of the Namibian guys are friends with our guys and pride's at stake. Rugby's in their blood as much as it is in our blood and they're going to come out and try to prove a point.

"You see it when teams get labelled as so-called 'minnows', for Namibia this could be their potential final. We realise that and we respect them for that."