The 'calm heads' that can stabilise rocky Bok boat
South Africa will require a composed and measured approach if they hope to keep their slim hopes alive in the Rugby Championship.
The Springboks must win with a bonus point against the All Blacks in Townsville on Saturday and keep the New Zealand team from collecting any points.
A solitary bonus point will see the All Blacks – who lead the Boks by 10 points – reclaim the Rugby Championship title with a round to go.
Seasoned scrumhalf Francois de Klerk said this requires composure from the entire team.
He reiterated the well-documented fact that New Zealand is a lethal team on the counter, when playing from the opposition’s mistakes.
“We know, when we go to our kicking game, when they go to their off-loads they are very dangerous,” the 34-times capped Bok No.9 said.
However, it is the changes to the replacement bench – with coach Jacques Nienaber opting for a more traditional five forwards and three backs split – as opposed to the Boks favoured six-two option – that will have a major influence.
The recall of the experienced duo of Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn suddenly give the Boks additional backline options.
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He spoke of how the experienced duo was ‘running the show’ on attack and defence in training – giving the Boks a taste of what they can expect on the weekend.
“The experience that they bring is going to be immense for us,” the 29-year-old scrumhalf told a virtual media briefing.
“A few additional calm heads is never a bad thing.”
He added that the additional backline reserves means it allows the starting backs the opportunity to have a few more goes and “empty the tank”, knowing there are additional resources on the bench.
“Frans [Steyn] can fit in almost anywhere and Elton [Jantjies] has played centre as well, and [obviously] flyhalf.
“We are well covered. It gives the back the opportunity to go out there and empty the tank.”
He admitted much of last week’s horror show in Brisbane could be put down to the fact that the Boks “strayed away” from how they normally play.
“Moving away from our DNA maybe put the guys under pressure,” he said, adding: “We were ‘forced’ to overplay a bit.
“It is up to us as game drivers to ensure we play in the right areas of the field. We should not have a go when it is not really on.
“We put that pressure on ourselves and [as a result] made the errors.”
He pointed out the last four matches between the two countries were ‘close encounters’ – with scorelines of 36-34 (SA win in Wellington), 32-30 (NZ win in Pretoria), 16-all in Wellington and 23-13 (NZ win in Yokohama) – saying that they know what to expect from the All Blacks.
“We are well aware that we can give them too much turnover possession, because that is what they flourish on.”