A bonus point win against Fiji at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland on Sunday is non-negotiable for the Springbok Women if they want to stay in the hunt for a quarterfinal place at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. For team captain, Nolusindiso Booi, it was an easy message to hammer home to her squad on Saturday as they completed their traditional captain's run at the stadium where three Rugby World Cup matches will be played tomorrow.
The South African kickers and outside backs had a good look at the fast-playing surface, but Booi was scanning the field, looking at her options for tomorrow's clash against Fijiana - a first ever Test match between the two sides.
Her mind was already racing at potential field positions to launch attacks or, if the planned pressure on the Rugby World Cup debutants pays off, getting points and scoreboard pressure in the match.
"We need those four tries at least, but for a start, we will need to take every available point out there on Sunday. We simply cannot afford to waste scoring opportunities and we will take every chance to do so," the captain explained her mindset for the game.
"I see our forwards as instrumental to this performance. We will have to put pressure on them through our set pieces and even score tries via that route. If we manage to get the upper hand in the scrums and lineouts, it will bring penalties our way and from those, we need to launch our point-scoring opportunities. We will either use our driving mauls, which proved highly effective against France last week, or kicking for points whenever we are in range for our kickers. Whatever option, it needs to bring points on the board," Booi said.
Their game plan against Fiji is a simple one, she said: "We need to keep the ball away from them. Those in the team who have encountered them on the Sevens fields of the world gave us a clear picture of Fiji - how they love their offload game and how they love to run with the ball. We need to starve them of ball to do so. And I believe our pack will be up to the task."
The captain delivered a passionate message to the team during the traditional jersey handover and urged each player to seek true perfection on match day.
"We are the chosen ones for this tournament,” said Booi. “People have put faith in us and trusted us to represent our country ,and to be an example to every young girl to show them what is possible. We cannot disappoint them, but even more importantly, we cannot disappoint ourselves. Each player worked so hard to be here, now we need to seize this opportunity. We worked too hard to be at this point, and not to give it all on Sunday will be such a waste of time. Each player has to ask herself, why am I here and how can I be at my very best in the match."
Sunday’s match will mark the last of the second round in the pool stages and the South Africans will know at the end of the match if they managed to get into the top eight on the log. A defeat to Fiji, however, would not need the log to confirm an early exit.
"We want to showcase ourselves to the world by playing the best teams in the world,” said Booi, who made a team-high 14 tackles against France, missing just one attempt in the match. “We targeted a top-eight finish, and to get there we need to win this one. It cannot be clearer than that, and every player knows that now. It is now up to us to go and deliver."