'They’re causing big problems': Ireland put a spotlight on Bok game-breakers
SPOTLIGHT: Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt admits that his team will have a tough battle on their hands trying to stop some of the Springboks’ key backline players.
Ireland and South Africa will meet in their Pool B clash on Saturday at the Stade de France and the winner will likely finish on top of the pool heading into the quarterfinals.
The Springboks have added an attacking edge to their game over the last few seasons and combined with a rush defence, they have almost become the complete package.
Ireland will enter the match as the world’s No.1 ranked team, but Catt knows that if they are to be successful in this year’s World Cup then they will need to beat the best in the world.
“They’re playing a great brand of rugby at the moment,” said Catt.
“There’s a real good mix of their physicality and their directness to their ability to move the ball.
“Having Manie Libbok at No.10, Damian Willemse at No.15 and Willie le Roux – they’re definitely putting the ball through the hands a little bit more and they’re causing big problems for a lot of teams.
“We’re well aware of it, but still you’ve got to try and stop it.
“You’re playing against one of the best teams in the world. This is what World Cups are built on.”
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On South Africa’s rush defence, Catt added: “South Africa have always been very aggressive in their defence and it’s worked very, very well for them.
“It definitely puts your skillset under pressure and it’s something we’ve been working on over the past couple of years.
“A lot more teams are becoming a lot tighter and coming with a lot more line speed. There’s still space around, you’ve just got to find it in different ways.”
On player Ireland will be banking on to help them in the wider channels and physical exchanges against the Boks is centre Bundee Aki.
Aki produced a man-of-the-match performance in the 59-16 win over Tonga with some big carries, aggressive tackles and two tries scored.
“He’s grand is old Bundee. He was a bit sore after last week’s game as well, he was wrapped for two days and then all of a sudden performed like he did again on the weekend,” said Catt.
“He’s getting through a tonne of work and he’s playing exceptionally well.
“With the amount of hits that he took, I suppose he is going to feel a bit sore but again, we’ll give him time to recover this week for the big battle on the weekend.”