Wed 12 Aug 2015 | 11:35

Boks to show World Cup hand

Boks to show World Cup hand
Wed 12 Aug 2015 | 11:35
Boks to show World Cup hand

While the team has played a more expansive game in their winless Rugby Championship campaign, operating with two openside flanks and running the ball more often, that is set to change in Buenos Aires this weekend against a Pumas side that coach Heyneke Meyer says he treats as a northern hemisphere team.


Although Meyer's side has developed their attacking game considerably over the last two years, he admitted that they will be going back to their traditional strengths which saw them go unbeaten in two year-end tours of Europe under his watch.

"We want to score tries and play rugby, but we have been unbeaten on two year-end tours with a more tactical approach. So we have wanted to score tries but they were maybe the wrong tactics from me, the public was happy about the way we were playing but at the end I have seen it is all about winning.

"We have to play more tactically, it is proven. The six times we have played the All Blacks every single time they have kicked more than us.

"On Saturday I think people will be very happy we kicked seven times and got totally outplayed. It doesn't matter what you do you will get criticism so you have to show character and do what you believe in," he said.

As a result he has made a few changes to the team with Pat Lambie at flyhalf, Zane Kirchner at fullback and the return of big Willem Alberts at blindside flank the most obvious indicators of the way they are likely to approach things on Saturday.

Meyer quipped that Kirchner has the second most critics in South African rugby after himself, but pointed out that the Leinster fullback has seldom let the Springboks down.


"Zane [Kirchner] is probably the guy with the second most critics in South Africa, I think I am the first now. 

"When he played 15 and Morne [Steyn] played 10 we had an 80% winning record and went unbeaten overseas.

"A lot of people wanted a guy like Polly [Handre Pollard] to come in and he scored two tries against the All Blacks and now people are booing him off the field, so as a coach you learn that you have to stick with what you believe in and Zane has always been brilliant.

"With Willie [Le Roux] injured you need a guy at the World Cup who can field high balls and is safe and can attack as well," he explained.


Lambie has had success as a flyhalf in Europe thanks to his solid tactical kicking and game management which is something Meyer is hoping to see this weekend although he would have like to give the unavailable Morne Steyn a chance as well.

"I just felt I had to give Pat [Lambie] a run at 10, he can be our number one 10 as well and it would be unfair just to move him to fullback.

"The reason I stuck with Polly, and don't get me wrong I still rate him, was that he did not have a great Super Rugby and needed confidence. Pat was injured so I had to bring him off the bench and bring him in slowly because there was no Currie Cup rugby for him to play.

"I have always believed that playing in the northern hemisphere you have to play more tactically, it is just a pity that Morne is not available for this game," he said.

The coach said that the return of Alberts with Pieter-Steph du Toit on the bench as loose forward cover was down to the need to have enough big ball-carriers in the forward pack to deal with the physical type of game that the Pumas play.

"Playing two opensides works against Australia and New Zealand because it is a much quicker game. I must take full responsibility for that, we got caught against Ireland with the same thing.

"Super Rugby and Rugby Championship is a totally different game, you move the ball around and score great tries so you can go with two opensides. When you play against northern hemisphere teams with refs that allow it to be an armwrestle you need big ball-carriers.

"Willem is in the team because he needs gametime, but he is probably only going to last for 30 to 40 minutes, and I felt that when he comes off we need another big ball-carrier there and I have aways rated Pieter-Steph but he has only played 20 minutes himself and also needs gametime," he said.

While there were other changes such as the brand new front row, Victor Matfield coming back in to lead the team and the shift in the backline with Lwazi Mvovo starting on the wing with Jesse Kriel back at outside centre, the selection of Kirchner, Lambie and Alberts should tell you everything you need to know about how the Springboks are likely to play.

Those expecting the Springboks to throw the ball around at the world Cup in England are probably going to be let down, with the style of rugby they play this weekend likely to be much closer to what we can expect from Meyer's team at the global showpiece.

By Michael de Vries, in Durban

PV: 2
Boks to show World Cup hand - south africa | Rugby365