Sun 30 Sep 2018 | 06:44

'Unpolished diamond' to torment Bok scrum

'Unpolished diamond' to torment Bok scrum
Sun 30 Sep 2018 | 06:44
'Unpolished diamond' to torment Bok scrum

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: South Africa can gear up for a monstrous onslaught in the scrums when they face New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld.

The Springboks host the All Blacks in a much-anticipated rematch in Pretoria in the final round of the Championship.

The Kiwis will have revenge on their minds, after the Boks’ 36-34 win in Wellington in Round Four – New Zealand’s only loss of 2018 and also their only defeat in their last 10 internationals.

The set pieces could hold the key to the Loftus showdown and the All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes they may have unearthed an “unpolished diamond” in prop Karl Tu’inukuafe.

Hansen was speaking after his team’s 35-17 title-clinching victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires at the weekend.

The All Blacks destroyed the Pumas in the scrums – a humiliating experience for a South American nation once outstanding in that aspect of the sport.

Loosehead Tu’inukuafe, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Ofa Tu’ungafasi tormented the Argentines, even though neither prop is a first choice.

They started at Estadio Jose Amalfitani as loosehead Joe Moody is injured and tighthead Owen Franks was rested by 2015 World Cup-winning coach Hansen.

“He could become great,” said Hansen of Tu’inukuafe, after New Zealand sealed a sixth title in the seventh year of the Southern Hemisphere tournament.

“Karl certainly can scrum, can lift in the line-outs, and we are starting to see other parts of his game, too. But Karl will be the first to tell you he is not the finished product.

“You go looking for nice coloured stones and you turn a wee rock over and under it there is a diamond. We just need to polish it and get the full diamond.”

Ardie Savea, a late inclusion at No.8 in place of ill Luke Whitelock, was another forward to get special praise from Hansen.

“I thought Ardie was outstanding,” said the 59-year-old coach, who succeeded Graham Henry after hosts New Zealand won the 2011 World Cup.

“Our scrum was outstanding and he controlled the ball at the back and won us a lot of penalties because of that.

“He did excellent work around the park as well, with and without the ball,” the coach said after a match that gave New Zealand a 27th win over Argentina in 28 Tests with one drawn.

“We were better, but you do not go from zero to 100 immediately,” said the coach of a triumph that came two weeks after a stunning 34-36 loss to South Africa in Wellington.

“I thought our kicking was better, maybe not as accurate as we would have liked, but we kicked to the right places at the right times a lot more than we did against the Springboks.

“At times we played some good footy and at other times we did not play that great. But let us credit Argentina, too. They are a difficult side to play against, especially here.”

In the final Championship fixtures this Saturday, New Zealand tackle second-place South Africa in Pretoria and third-place Argentina face rock-bottom Australia in Salta.

AFP & @rugby365com

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'unpolished Diamond' To Torment Bok Scrum - Argentina | Rugby365