The odds are stacked heavily against the Boks pulling off a victory against a team that is more settled and better prepared for the two-Test series.The Bok management team and players have talked the Irish up all week and rightly so, following the impressive displays by Ireland at the World Cup last year and then in this season's Six Nations.
By comparison the Boks are in complete disarray thanks to a series of setbacks in the last month and only a massive team effort and perhaps a little divine intervention will help keep the proud unbeaten home record against the Irish intact."This is not a win-at-all-costs situation, but that said we all want to get off to a winning start," White said on Friday.
"The underdog tag has been good to us this week. People don't give us much of a chance, but we have told the players that there's no use burning up energy worrying about it."
Injuries to key players, recent squabbling between Sarfu and SA Rugby, and a host of other minor setbacks have riddled the Boks' preparation, but White said there was a steely determination to prove their doubters wrong."The rugby tradition is strong in this country and there is an expectation from the public. I don't think that any player here wants to be in the first team that loses to Ireland in South Africa."
The injury to flank Juan Smith on Thursday evening was the latest injury woe to hit the squad and brought to seven the number of players that have withdrawn from the original line-up.
Bulls loose-forward Jacques Cronje comes into the starting line-up at No 8 to win his first cap with Pedrie Wannenburg switching to the side of the scrum, while Cats lock Gerrie Britz is called up to the bench. There are now four new caps in the run-on XV.
The battle lines have now been drawn, though, and White is a worried man no matter what he says. He has put on a brave face in the build-up, but now the time has come to let the players do their jobs."I'm as excited today as I was when I was appointed. We have all waited a long time to play this first match. I've told the guys there is no reason that we can't go 15-0 up after 20 minutes."
Captain John Smit agreed: "The injuries haven't impacted on the social dynamics of the squad. All the guys that have come in are quality players. We all know what is expected of us on Saturday.
The Irish, meanwhile, feel that this could well be the best chance they have of getting a win on South African soil. "A win would be hugely significant," said Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll."No Irish team has come here and won so we have the chance to do something historic. We have picked up good results in the past 18 months so the confidence is high."
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan said that the disruptions to the Boks meant that he did not know as much about them as he would have liked."It is a very different team from the one that played at the World Cup, but I'm happy that we have done our homework," he said. "I'm looking forward to a tough battle tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure everyone is."
Ireland:Girvan Dempsey;Shane Horgan, Gordon D'Arcy, Brian O'Driscoll, Geordan Murphy;Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Anthony Foley, David Wallace, Simon Easterby; Paul O'Connell, Malcolm O'Kelly; John Hayes, Shane Byrne, Reggie Corrigan.Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Marcus Horan, Donncha O'Callaghan, Alan Quinlan, Guy Easterby, David Humphreys, Kevin Maggs.
South Africa: Gaffie du Toit;Breyton Paulse, Marius JJoubert, Wayne Julies, Henno Mentz; Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Fourie du Preez; Jacques Cronje, Pedrie Wannenburg, Schalk Burger; Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Eddie Andrews, John Smit (captain), Os du Randt.Replacements: Hanyani Shimange, CJ van der Linde, Quinton Davids, Gerrie Britz, Bolla Conradie, Jacque Fourie, Brent Russell.
Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England) Touch Judges: Joel Jutge (France) and Giulio de Santis (Italy) Television Match Official: Nigel Owens (Wales)
By Andrew Hollely - Cape Times