Bismarck has license to dominate
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer insists abrasive hooker Bismarck du Plessis won’t hold anything back in Saturday’s Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks at Ellis Park.
Du Plessis was on Wednesday included in the starting line-up ahead of the impressive Adriaan Strauss and will find himself in the spotlight on Saturday.
The 29-year-old was controversially red carded by referee Romain Poite in the previous meeting between the teams in Auckland – a decision that was later overturned by the International Rugby Board, who admitted the French official was in the wrong.
Meyer, however, said rather than instructing Du Plessis to tone down his trademark physicality and intensity, he’s encouraged him to be play his natural game.
“The only thing I want from Bismarck is to be Bismarck, that is why he has been selected,” said Meyer.
“By saying that, Adriaan could have played as well, he was brilliant last week and it is easy to make a choice when you have two great players in form. The one that doesn’t start will get 20-30 minutes, so they almost get the same amount of game time.”
Meyer assured that Du Plessis – and his teammates – will remain level-headed and won’t use Poite’s officiating as negative motivation in the return fixture, which will be officiated by Welsh referee Nigel Owens.
“I expect Bismarck to be very, very physical and to be great in the scrums. He is a great leader and he usually gets the team up if he plays well.
“What usually happens is that we know that the All Blacks are very physical and we need to be more physical. We need to be very focused and disciplined. The one thing we can’t afford is skew line-out throws and mistakes like that.
“Although you need to be very emotional and up for the game, you are not going to beat the All Blacks by being emotional and over-motivated. You need to be very, very clinical, very focused – they are the type of team that put a lot of pressure on you with their kicking game.
“They force you into errors and then play off your errors. It is a simple gameplan but they execute it brilliantly. You cannot be emotional because you will never get out of your half and they punish every single mistake.
“That’s why I just want Bismarck to be Bismarck.”
Meyer said Strauss, one of the stars in the 28-8 win over the Wallabies at Newlands last weekend, understood the reasons behind the decision.
“The players know exactly where they stand. They know how I make the decision and that’s between me and the players,” said Meyer.
“As long as it’s a team effort, they show they play for each other as a team. They support each other. It is great to have competition in the side, but both players are great leaders and I never want to get into a position where they start to downplay each other. It is a great rivalry but they are both important to the team.”