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Springboks aiming higher

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    01 Sep 2017     Getty Images

Unbeaten this year, after three wins over France in June and two Investec Rugby Championship wins over Argentina, the Springboks have lifted from seventh to third in the rankings, and they don't aim to stop there.

Captain and lock Eben Etzebeth told South African media they had two more spots to climb before they'll be happy.

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"We're still not where we want to be – we all know where the Springboks want to be. From seventh to third in five games is pretty good for us [they won only four of 12 Tests last year], but we're looking to climb that ladder two more spots," he said.

South Africa and New Zealand share the lead on the Championship ladder with the Springboks ahead on points differential. They play Australia next weekend in Perth and the All Blacks in Albany a week later.

"After these two games we'll know where we stand," Etzebeth said.

Australia would be a better side than their Super Rugby teams showed but Etzebeth was confident the Springboks were benefiting from their preparation this year.

"There will be a difference, but luckily we faced them in Super Rugby, so the guys know what they do. We are well prepared.

"We've had better preparation this year, we had more time to prepare," he said.
That extra time had also benefited the coaching team and coach Allister Coetzee had been able to get his management team organised better this year.

"After this tour we will know what we have to do in the home leg at the end of the competition so it is very important that we get good results," he said.

Etzebeth said he had enjoyed the extra responsibility involved in captaining the side in the absence of Warren Whiteley to injury.

"If you had asked me a few years ago if I saw myself as a potential leader I would have said no, that I was not a natural at it, but I am now starting to grow into the role and becoming more accustomed to it and am really enjoying it.

"I like expressing my emotions on the field a little bit more, like when we get into a huddle. I also enjoy running out in front knowing you're leading for your country. It's something special. I never imagined it," he said.

"These past three matches have been possibly my most enjoyable time with the Boks."

The Springboks have been boosted by news that tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen will join them on the tour. A rib injury he suffered against Argentina at the weekend has been scanned and it is not fractured.