Springboks and Pumas focus on progress

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SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer and Argentina hope to show solid signs of progress at this Rugby Championship after both made shaky debuts in 2012.

Meyer’s first examination by world champions New Zealand, Australia and Argentina in the southern hemisphere’s flagship competition produced unconvincing results. It included a surprise draw at newcomers Argentina and ended with a loss at home to the top-ranked All Blacks, the long-time rival the Springboks always measure themselves against.

Meyer wants South Africa’s form to be much closer to rugby’s dominant world champions this season, starting today in Soweto against Argentina who are still searching for a morale-boosting maiden victory in the championship. The Springboks’ progress in the 12 months since they were blown away in the second half by a rampant All Blacks will be dissected when they start against Argentina with the core of the team that has won three out of three Tests in 2013.

“Continuity has been key for us this year and that is why we’ve opted not to make too many changes.” Meyer said.

“I think it was clear last year that the Argentinians are not in the Rugby Championship to make up the numbers, which means we will have to be focused on doing the little things right. They’ve been together for a few weeks now and will be a tough opponent.”

South Africa: W le Roux; B Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, J de Villiers (capt), B Basson; M Steyn, R Pienaar; D Vermeulen, W Alberts, F Louw, J Kruger, E Etzebeth, J du Plessis, A Strauss, T Mtawarira. Subs: B du Plessis, G Steenkamp, C Oosthuizen, F van der Merwe, S Kolisi, F du Preez, P Lambie, J Serfontein.

Argentina: J Martin Hernandez; G Camacho, M Bosch, F Contepomi (capt), J Imhoff; N Sanchez, M Landajo; L Senatore, J Manuel Leguizamon, P Matera, P Albacete, M Carizza, M Diaz, E Guinazu, J Figallo. Subs: A Creevy, N Lobo, J Pablo Orlandi, M Galarza, J Farias Cabello, T Cubelli, S Fernandez, H Agulla.

Referee: C Pollock (New Zealand)