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De Villiers feels Boks are underdogs

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Sportal.co.nz     21 Jul 2009     Getty Images

The Springboks, who are coming off a battling 2-1 series victory over the British and Irish Lions, kick off their campaign in Bloemfontein against an All Black side that was pushed hard before securing a 22-16 win against Australia at the weekend.

Graham Henry's men looked to be heading for defeat - they trailed 13-3 at half-time - before a second-half fightback saw them claim all the points and move top of the table.

But the world champions have been installed as favourites to win the title for the first time since 2004, a tag that is clearly disturbing De Villiers.

"We would love to be the underdogs," he said.

"We didn't write off the All Blacks and I'm not sure who did.

"We always knew that they were a good rugby side, as they showed on Saturday against the Wallabies.

"If you think you can pitch up for 60 or 70 minutes against the All Blacks then you're at the wrong place at the wrong time.

"The Wallabies dominated the first 20 minutes but [New Zealand] came back and played to their potential."

The hosts have two major injury concerns ahead of the game at Vodacom Park, with centres Adi Jacobs (groin) and Jaque Fourie (quadriceps) both facing a race against time to be fit.

Bulls midfielder Wynand Olivier has been called up as cover for Jacobs, who is being monitored by the medical team ahead of tomorrow's team announcement.

Both could be included in the match 22, but could well see additional players placed on standby if they fail late tests on their injuries.

The coach continued: "They are still working with Adi. He is basically the only player our medical staff are working with.

"Jaque Fourie also receives provisional treatment."

De Villiers was also quizzed about his meeting with the South African Rugby Union last week, when he was reportedly rated by his bosses over the performance in his role thus far, including a grading from the recently concluded Lions series.

However, he refused to divulge anything, saying: "Nobody told me what I may do and what I may not do.

"The rating is according to me a personal matter. If anyone wants to find something out about it they can call SA Rugby, but for me it's a personal matter.

"It doesn't matter how good or bad I am. If I can do the job to the best of my ability that's all that matters to me."