Blues coach: SA teams must stick to their strengths

Wed, 17 May 2017 15:05

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Blues assistant coach Steve Jackson believes South African teams should stop trying to emulate their New Zealand counterparts on the field of play. Warren Fortune reports.

Jackson, who was speaking to reporters at his team's base in Cape Town ahead of their Super Rugby Round 13 clash against the Stormers, described New Zealand's players as a "different kettle of fish" to others around the world, which allowed them to play an attractive and successful brand rugby. 

There is a lot of truth to Jackson's words as New Zealand's franchises have dominated Super Rugby for the last few seasons and so far the Stormers are the only non-New Zealand side to beat a NZ team this year after their 34-26 victory over the Chiefs in April.

However, it all went downhill from there for the Cape side when they lost their next four games which included heavy defeats to the Crusaders, Highlanders and the Hurricanes in New Zealand.

"I think their [Stormers] skillset has changed a bit," said Jackson. "They are chancing their arm with the offload when passing the ball, but they still have not gone away from their maul and that is something they will be looking forward to doing against us."

Jackson added: I just think that if South African teams keep playing the style that they want to play, with their big forwards and guys that get go forward ball - and if they able to play off the back of that - I think they will get some gain there. 

"I know there is a lot of talk about the teams trying to emulate what New Zealand teams do, but I think we are a different kettle of fish than most places and I think you just have to work to your strengths and that is what we do back home. 

"Our strengths are that we have a lot of flair and we got a lot of guys that come through our system that can deliver that for us and we play to that."

Jackson, who takes care of the forwards in the Blues camp, is expecting a physical onslaught up front at Newlands, but he is also aware of what the Stormers' backs are capable of if they get good ball. 

"Your sides like to be physical up front and we expect that week in and week out. Don't get me wrong, when we finish those games against these [South African] teams, our forward pack is pretty sore. We got a job to do, we got to front up physically because if we don't we will be on the back foot all day.

"They [Stormers] got some exciting backs. Their outside backs have with a lot of speed and flair. But again, it is just about forward packs creating opportunities for the backlines and when you can do that and open some space then it is up to your key drivers to be able to get the ball there.

"Most teams get too excited about playing the New Zealand way. I just think South African teams, with their born and bred big men, should just keep playing up front," said Jackson.

By Warren Fortune

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