Peter de Villiers is adamant his B-Team Springboks will not roll over and play dead when they head to Australia next week for the first assignment of the international season.
Despite being minus 23 frontline players, and having added two more to his squad as "injury cover" for the away leg of the Tri-Nations, the Bok coach feels there is more than enough motivation to ensure South Africa will not just be competitive, but a real threat in the latest instalment of the SANZAR championship.
In fact De Villiers used the ultimate motivational tool - he dangled a World Cup carrot in front of the fringe players to ensure they give the Wallabies (in Sydney on July 23) and All Blacks (in Wellington a week later) a real run for their money.
The Bok mentor felt that "in an ideal world" there should not be a Tri-Nations tournament in a World Cup year.
However, he is approaching the first part of this unwanted assignment with the same cunning he would in trying upstage his rivals at the World Cup.
The injuries to most of his frontline squad, according to De Villiers, is a chance for others to stake a claim to the remaining World Cup places.
"It is not by design, but by chance," De Villiers said, adding: We still have seven or eight spots open in the World Cup squad.
"It doesn't mean the guys who are on the injury list will automatically go to the World Cup.
"There are a few guys that are injured that won't make the World Cup squad.
"However, we have an opportunity to compare apples with apples, see - under the same circumstance - who will put their hands up.
"We will see who are the composed players, the mature players. We can see what sort of experience they gained from Super Rugby and if they can play in a World Cup if we need them.
"I think it is a great opportunity [for the fringe players]."
Asked if he felt his B-Team Boks have a chance of winning one or two of these Tests on tour in Australasia, he was equally as forthright.
"When you put on the Bok jersey you don't have a weak side," De Villiers said.
"Those players will carry the flag for our country and I said to them they are not filling anybody's boots ... just their own."
By Jan de Koning
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