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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 07:01 GMT
Born-again Boks chasing history

By Zinzan Brooke
Former All Black

South Africa celebrate their 2004 Tri-Nations success
The Springboks are the reigning Tri-Nations champions

All the big guns are coming over to Britain this winter, but what really excites me is the fact that South Africa are going for a Grand Slam.

No one has managed to beat England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in quick succession since Australia in 1984.

South Africa have not done it since Avril Malan's side beat all four Home Nations way back in 1960-61.

But this new Springboks side certainly has the ability to win the Slam and I expect them to get off to a winning start when they face Wales on Saturday.

The Boks have come a long way in such a short time because they had a torrid three or four years before that.

However, they now have a really balanced group of guys with a nice blend of youth and experience.

Back rowers Joe van Niekerk and Schalk Burger and centre Marius Joubert really stand out for South Africa

Because it is the end of the season, the southern hemisphere sides are often thinking about being back on the beach in the sun when they come over here.

But this South Africa side looks really hungry and has got a bit of venom about it.

The young guys will bring the hunger while there are some older guys there to bring some experience and a bit of patience, which they will need.

They have also got the Slam to target.

And if they take their minds off the job in hand, their coach, Jake White, will make sure they start concentrating again.

Three of their youngsters really stand out - back rowers Joe van Niekerk and Schalk Burger and centre Marius Joubert.

Van Niekerk is an exciting player. He's quick off the back of the scrum and is good going forward and back.

Burger just loves it - he's perpetual motion. He's enthusiastic and aggressive, a real blonde bombshell.

Schalk Burger (right) tackles Australia's Matt Giteau
Burger (right) has made a real impact since earning his place

The third guy to watch out for is the centre, Joubert.

He scored a hat-trick against New Zealand in the summer and is big, powerful and direct.

When you add to them the older guys like Percy Montgomery and Os du Randt, you have a really good core of players.

Wales will be no pushovers and it will be a great occasion at the Millennium Stadium.

They have shown flashes of what they can do over the past year or so but South Africa are on a bit of a high and I think they will win by 12 to 18 points.

It should be closer than the meeting between Australia and Scotland, although at least it will be 0-0 at kick-off at Murrayfield.

I think Matt Williams is doing a good job but at the end of the day you can only work with what talent you have at your disposal. He needs a bit more ammunition I'm afraid.

Australia will be going into the match cold but, conditions allowing, I still think they will win by at least 25 points.




THE ZINZAN BROOKE COLUMN

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