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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Pienaar: Springboks will bounce back
Francois Pienaar
Pienaar led South Africa to victory in 1995
Former South African captain Francois Pienaar believes the team's tumultuous build-up to the World Cup could end up helping their cause.

The Springboks have been plagued by accusations of racism within the squad ahead of the World Cup.

But Pienaar, who led his country to victory in 1995, told the BBC Sport website: "The build-up has not been perfect and there are one or two issues but this might rally the team together."

The South Africa squad was rocked at the end of August when lock Geo Cronje, who is white, was accused of refusing to share a room with Quinton Davids, who is black.

Both players were left out of the Springbok squad to travel to the World Cup in Australia.

And since then team spokesman Mark Keohane has resigned because he said the subsequent internal investigation amounted to a cover-up.

His resignation led to a fresh investigation being launched.

Pienaar, who refused to discuss the accusations of racism within the international rugby set-up, said the ensuing investigation could have two potential outcomes for his countrymen.

The England game is their version of ours against the Wallabies and we weren't much fancied going into that,
Francois Pienaar

He added: "This has been sad for the game, but the guys need to sort this out for themselves and then just go for it at the World Cup.

"It's going to be a tough one but South Africa still have a chance to bounce back from it."

South Africa's toughest obstacle in the group stages comes in the form of England, who they face in their second match on 18 October.

"On the day anything can happen so I'd never discount South Africa," he said.

Pienaar compared the game against England to South Africa's opener against Australia in the 1995 tournament.

The Springboks had gone into the tournament as ninth favourites to win, while the Wallabies had been unbeaten in 12 months and were fancied to defend their 1991 crown.

But South Africa came away 27-18 winners, putting them on course for eventual overall victory.

"The England game is their version of ours against the Wallabies and we weren't much fancied going into that," he added.





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