18 Apr 14
It's competition time, and we are offering supporters the chance to win a fantastic prize for Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon in Marseille.
It's hard to imagine Bakkies and his roomie or the rest of the Boks springing out of bed this morning looking out at the damp dank drear of a Dublin November dawn and going Yippeee hi ho, hi ho it's off to work we go. ?
It would have been around the 60 degrees Fahrenheit mark when they left the Cape for the regulation northern hemisphere trip that comes at the end of an international run that has been nothing less than a disaster. And, given the list of those left behind to bask in the sun, it doesn't promise to get any better any time soon.
Nor will the weather improve for them although there's an interesting line of thought in one of today's newspapers that a wet blustery night in Dublin 4 will play into the Springboks hands. If the skies open like, the Springboks could sneak it ? Cause, see they're the sort of conditions they're used to playing in.
Speaking of the skies opening, at least the Welsh had the prescience to stick a roof on their gaff. So it's November, it's been raining and will likely continue, so they'll close it ? No, they won't. The Aussies are a calling and the Welsh would much prefer to be singing in the rain than reigning in the Jamesie O'Connor, Kurtley Beale inspired Wallabies without some help from above.
But it's just so that they'll get used to the sort of conditions that will prevail in the World Cup according to skills coach Rob Howley.
But at the Aviva this evening there will be no excuses if Ireland don't confirm the pre-match hype. They have effectively the Leinster backline - Tommy Bowe being the very notable exception - and a pack shy of just two, Paul O'Connell and Jerry Flannery, they would normally call on.
On the other hand the Boks have something like 12 regulars left at home, several newcomers to Test rugby in their match day squad, one centre whose defence is definitely suspect and the other who was a dicky groin.
It's the start of their Home Nations tour and they may need this game to get into the groove. Certainly their preparation - only arrived Thursday - suggests they may have targeted the games in Britain and talk of a Grand Slam tour is just that.
And should end today.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll capt, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonny Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tony Buckley; Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll; Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy, Peter Stringer, Ronan O'Gara, Keith Earls.
South Africa: Gio Aplon; Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner, Jean de Villiers/Patrick Lambie, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield; Deon Stegmann*, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe. Willem Alberts/Keegan Daniel, Francois Hougaard, Adi Jacobs, Patrick Lambie/Lwazi Mvovo.