The Rugby Championship
Boks believe mental strength will be key
ESPN Staff
August 14, 2012
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer faces the media, South African Rugby Union press conference, Cape Town, South Africa, January 27, 2012
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer believes mental toughness will be key to his side's success in the forthcoming Rugby Championship © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Heyneke Meyer
Tournaments/Tours: Rugby Championship
Teams: South Africa

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer believes mental toughness may be the deciding factor in this year's Rugby Championship.

The Boks' boss has predicted a close contest in the battle for southern hemisphere supremacy and is wary that his side's ability to combat the pressure of the competition could be pivotal in their quest for a first title since 2009.

"I don't think there will be much to pick between the competing teams tactically. The difference in the tightest matches is going to be mental," Meyer told ahead of his side's opener against Argentina in Cape Town on Saturday. "It is not correct to say that the team wants it more that wins. It's the team that handles the pressure better that usually wins."

Meyer, whose side warmed up for the Rugby Championship with a 2-0 series victory over England in June, insists the Boks have made great strides in terms of their mental agility. "It's by placing the players in a situation of attrition that you find out about their mental toughness. We've actually made huge strides on that recently. I have also had a couple of people in to speak to the players about mental toughness.

"But it is something that takes time. Mental toughness is not something that comes to a player or to a team overnight, and it tends to be built up through experience. We are fortunate in that we have 20 and 21-year-olds in our team who are already mentally tough, but they will only really grow through gaining experience."

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