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Smit: Springboks are focused

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Sportal.co.nz     24 Jul 2010     Getty Images

De Villiers was so frustrated by the interpretations of the Northern Hemisphere referees in South Africa's two losses to New Zealand that he hinted at a possible conspiracy to see next year's World Cup host enjoy success leading up to the tournament.

Foxsports' Brendan Cannon was disparaging of the remarks, labelling de Villiers a 'clown' and a 'puppet', but was forced to apologise despite the South African coach issuing a statement on Friday retracting the comments.

But while the controversy has swirled around their coach, Smit says the players haven't been affected by the turbulence and are fully focused on igniting their Tri Nations campaign with a win over the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium.

"I think it's probably helpful that we don't have too much time to get involved in the papers and websites when we're losing," he said.

"I'm not too sure what's going on and the only task we can really give ourselves is fixing what goes on the field.

"As players there's always going to be sideshows, but our job is pretty simple to get it right on the field."

The interpretation of laws, especially around the ruck, has been a talking point for all Tri Nations sides, but for South Africans in particular there has been a real disappointment in the efforts of the Northern Hemisphere whistle-blowers.

Adding to the scrutiny on the under-performing Springboks side has been the significant media focus on the rough and tumble, sometimes illegal, play of the highly physical South African unit.

But despite missing two of his first choice players to suspension, Smit says labelling his side as dirty is unfair and does no justice to their world-class calibre.

"I think if bashing was the only strength we had we wouldn't have achieved all the things we have over the last three or four years," he said.

"Sometimes you have to bash it, but not all the time. We've got to make sure we play the way we can and then we'll have a fair chance of winning tomorrow."

All through the week players and staff from both sides have talked up the contest between two teams with everything to play for.

The South Africans are desperate to avoid an almost unprecedented third straight loss, while the Aussies, who were unconvincing in their recent Tests against England and Ireland, will see the home-game as vital if they are to finally fill their trophy cabinet with some meaningful silverware.

"They've got a huge amount of talent and certainly they'll be wanting to tick the home-win box as well, which is important," said Smit.

"There's two teams pretty desperate for a result for different reasons, my hope is that we get it right and they get it wrong, but they're a team with a huge amount of potential and a number of threats on attack.

"[The South African players] enjoy being handed their jersey whether it's for the first time or the fiftieth time and they enjoy winning, that's what I think has made this team grow over the last few years and stay together.

"With that enjoyment comes the hurt of losing as well and it's that hurt that sometimes provides further motivation."