Rugby fever is high in the Eastern Cape as the Springboks and the All Blacks have arrived in Port Elizabeth for the Tri-Nations test match.
The last time South Africa played New Zealand in PE was in 1970. In a ruthless affair, the Springboks emerged victors by 14 – 3.
Back then the All Blacks had defeated the Boks in the second test of the series and pride was very much at stake in the PE test. 41 years later, a very similar situation exists.
Victor Matfield and his team have to show their supporters that they are ready for the World Cup. Anything less than a South African victory will simply not be good enough.
Frik du Preez was the enforcer of the Springbok team in 1970. He played with total commitment and brutal intent in the days when there were no TV cameras and citing commissions that have sanitised rugby today.
The All Black Chris Laidlaw was on the receiving end of a Du Preez tackle and a knuckle sandwich that saw Laidlaw stumble around the field in a daze. The tackle was regarded as a turning point in the entire series.
Bakkies Botha and the other Bok forwards are going to have to display the same passion today if South Africa is to beat their old foes.
The old Boet Erasmus stadium was known as the graveyard of visiting teams. Eastern Province had a reputation for always winning the fight, even if they lost the game in those days.
The 1974 British Lions nearly came unstuck against EP as pitched battles broke out at the Boet and EP were given the task of softening up the 1980 British Lions when the first game of that tour took place in Port Elizabeth.
Schalk Burger senior, Pote Human and Dennis Campher were the hard men who fronted up to the Lions. The tone was set in that game and the Boks went on to win the series 3 – 1.
As the Springboks prepare to do battle for the first time in the new stadium, anything less than brutal intent and total commitment will be demanded by the Port Elizabeth fans who will be clamouring for a home town victory.
In the Eastern Cape, our blood is green!
Date: Saturday, August 20
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 SA (15.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Clear day of sunshine with a high of 20°C
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistants: Andrew Small (England), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 François Hougaard, 22 Butch James.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Isaia Toeava, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Cory Jane.