Springboks' simple plan to beat All Blacks
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: The All Blacks will have to cope with plenty of high balls in wet conditions when they face the Springboks in their World Cup opener in Yokohama on Saturday.
South African coach Rassie Erasmus predictably named his number one side on Thursday for the counter. He will roll out the same side that thrashed Japan in their final warm-up match before the tournament, a line-up that had only one change from the team that drew 16-all with New Zealand last month when Siya Kolisi was injured.
Between them, the Springboks and All Blacks have won five of the eight World Cups and Erasmus has been quite open about the game plan needed to take down his arch-rivals in their Pool B clash at Yokohama on Saturday.
Against Japan, Springbok halfbacks Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard spent much of the time kicking the ball away so the South Africans could rehearse their defensive lines ahead of the sustained periods of attack they expect from the All Blacks.
“We’ve picked our best side,” Erasmus said.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge with the rain they’re predicting. Everyone’s talking about the slippery ball and the wetness. Kicking is going to play a big part.”
— Springboks (@Springboks) September 18, 2019
Erasmus believed his backline – with a speedy outside trio of Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi – would match whoever the All Blacks put up, but the crunch area would be how his bigger forward pack handled the breakdown in the humidity as the game wore on.
“We’ve been working really hard on that over the last six or seven Test matches. It will be a massive challenge.”
Duane Vermeulen, who made his debut in 2012, will win his 50th cap. There are six other half-centurions in the team – Willie le Roux, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth are all starting, while Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw and Frans Steyn are on the bench.
“We have got good experience and leaders through the team – including four players who have captained the team at one time or another and three others who have captained their franchises – as well as some talented, relative newcomers for a good balance I believe,” said Erasmus, who also pointed to the small margins between the teams in recent years.
“Our last three matches have ended in stalemate, one win each and a draw, for an aggregate score of 82-82,” said Erasmus.
“You couldn’t say there is a favourite. I think we have a healthy respect for each other’s capabilities, but it will come down to a small moment to decide a big game in the end, I suppose.
“Our job is to focus on executing our plan and our skills to the best of our ability and hope that that is enough to overcome a New Zealand team that will be doing exactly the same.”
Sources: AFP & SA Rugby