The Springboks take on Italy in Durban on Saturday and home fans will be looking for a convincing victory.
The Bulls may be out of action for a while but with ten Bulls players being selected for the Bok squad there is no danger of them losing their edge and there is of course plenty of interest for Bulls fans.
The ten Bulls players include - JJ Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Juandré Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Flip van der Merwe, Arno Botha and youngster Jan Serfontein.
We are happy to see Morne Steyn being selected straight off the mark as he has returned to form following his struggles of 2012. Pat Lambie is the incumbent but Steyn is back to his best both in terms of kicking for poles and out of hand and he has also proved effective at getting the Bulls backline on the front foot as evidenced by their 32 tries against the 25 of the Sharks (10 of which were scored in one game).
This will be the Boks first test match in 2013 and they ended 2012 with a clean sweep of Ireland, Scotland and England in November although it must be said that they were made to work hard on each occasion.
Italy enjoyed their most successful Six Nations campaign yet earlier this year winning two from five matches with France and Ireland both victims in Rome. Their away form remains a major concern and in their last 12 road trips they have only beaten the USA, Canada and Russia while losing to all of the bigger nations they have played.
Head to Head
The Boks and Italy have met six times in South Africa with the most recent clashes being a two test series in 2010. The Boks were given a hard time in Witbank winning 29-13 before a more comfortable 55-11 win in East London. They have only met once in Durban way back in 1999 when the Boks won 101-0. The average score is 58-7 to the Boks and they have scored 48 tries and conceded just 3.
Meyer will know there are bigger fish to fry but he will be looking for a ruthless performance from his side first up. Most of the Bok players are coming off Super Rugby action and they should have little trouble accounting for Italy although the victors may well keep them quiet for the first 30 minutes or so.
Italy was impressive in the way that they went about their business in the Six Nations and if they play with the same attitude then we should be in for some entertaining rugby. The Boks to pull clear late to win by 20 points or more is the prediction for this one.
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