Wales have blueprint to beat Boks
Wales have blueprint to beat BoksSHARE
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley believes he has found a blueprint on how to beat the Springboks in their opening match of the November Tests.
Howley went on a spying mission to Ellis Park last week, where he observed how New Zealand upstaged South Africa 38-27 to retain their Rugby Championship title.
The Welsh mentor believes Wales will be facing one of the form sides in the world when the Springboks arrive in Cardiff on November 9.
Despite the All Blacks' powerful final quarter surge to beat the Boks, Howley said he was impressed with South Africa's performance.
"It was a fantastic, epic battle between the top two Southern Hemisphere sides," he said.
"To go over and have that insight was really important for our preparation as we haven't played them in a couple of years.
"It was a really informative trip, not only watching the game itself, but researching potential accommodation and training venues for our tour to South Africa next year as well as catching up with the Springboks and All Blacks management teams."
However, it is in observing the Springboks in action that Howley feels he gained most.
"In November we play South Africa first up and there is no doubt that it is going to be a huge physical battle," Howley said.
"The intensity of last Saturday's game showed that, especially with the amount of time the ball was in play.
"Nine tries were scored, and New Zealand came back really impressively in the second-half. They managed to negate South Africa's driving line-out and that gave them the platform they were looking for.
"It was interesting to see how both sides managed the kicking game and the aerial battle.
"Being live at the game, it is not all about watching the ball but watching what players are doing off it as well and how they counter attack, so it was really useful.
"One thing you have to do against South Africa is create opportunities, but then you have to be clinical as well and that is exactly what the All Blacks did and that is what we will have to do as well.
"I have been really impressed with their form this season and we know we are facing one of the in-form teams in world rugby on November 9."
South Africa ended the campaign with four victories and in runners-up spot and will have to wait just five weeks for their next International match, which comes in Cardiff as they kick-off their year-end tour.
The Wales squad will meet up for the first time since their mid-year Tests later this month and they will need to get up to speed quickly according to Howley.
"It's always a challenge for players and coaches coming into international campaigns, making sure players are up to speed with the international game.
"We need to make sure the environment and training sessions are intense and physical so we are ready for the first game.
"The year-end is a huge challenge for us, but it is one we welcome and are looking forward to.
"It you look at the year-end series over the last three or four years, we haven't won too many matches and that is the next challenge for us.
"Looking back to mid-year, the youngsters that went to Japan would have gained invaluable experience and the hurdle our players took beating a Southern Hemisphere side as part of the British and Irish Lions can only give us confidence.
"If you look especially at the third Test in Sydney, our players will really have benefited from that experience and will come into this campaign with a lot of confidence and we will all be ready to put a marker down in that first game against South Africa."
The opening fixture of the November Tests will be the first time Howley returns to the Millennium Stadium since leading Wales to the Six Nations title back in March.
A British and Irish Lions series win in Australia has featured since then for the former Wales scrumhalf, but he is looking forward to returning to the centre of Cardiff for four back-to-back matches.
"It is an inspirational stadium," said Howley.
"When we got back to the Millennium Stadium in the Six Nations against England, we'd had tough experiences on the road against Scotland, Italy and France and we were all looking forward to getting back and playing at home.
"As players and coaches we feel it's the best stadium in the world and the memories always come flooding back so I've got no doubt that the atmosphere will be replicated again in November."