Van Graan said the players fully embraced their responsibility to South Africa, and when they leave for the World Cup on September 11, no stone will have been left unturned in terms of preparations and planning.
The Boks are drawn in a Pool with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the US, and Van Graan said the importance of the group stage had to be embraced as massively important matches to hone the Boks into a side capable of winning the knockout stage, and nothing would be held in reserve.
“If you look at the history of the tournament, no side that has won the World Cup has lost a game in the process, so we are going with the mindset that we have to win seven out of seven,” Van Graan said.
“Obviously we expect to get through the Pool stage. I think it’s kind of like two competitions in a competition. First you have to get to a quarter-final, and then it’s knockout rugby for the next three weeks.”
Van Graan said there were some understandable nerves in the Bok group as tomorrow’s World Cup squad announcement draws nearer. He said that this week in training the coaches were taking the players down from the levels of high physical exertion of the last month in Durban to concentration on specific drills.
“We always planned to be a little over-trained in this last few weeks in Durban with the aim of hopefully peaking in the knock-out rounds of the World Cup.
“Everybody is a bit nervous. There are a number of players that know they are close but can’t be certain, one way or the other,” Van Graan said.
“It’s such a massive privilege to be part of this Springbok group: we’re all working really hard, we are doing our absolute best to create a dream for our country, not take one away. It will obviously be very sad for the guys who miss out, but we have grown very close together as a squad, and everyone knows that injuries can happen and that anyone can still be called on to play a role.”
Van Graan said it was fascinating to see how the different contenders were approaching the World Cup. ‘The Northern hemisphere teams are pretty much playing friendlies all the way into the opening of the Pool matches. They are trying to get momentum. The Southern hemisphere teams are trying to scale down but do what they can to bring back injured players in the Pool games. It is what makes the World Cup so interesting.” - The Star
Original source: Boks must be ‘dream-givers’