VIDEO: Boks looking to expose France's soft underbelly
INTERVIEW: Regarded as the favourites for the 2023 World Cup, France showed very few weaknesses in the past year.
They won a Six Nations Grand Slam and are currently second on the World Rugby rankings.
South Africa may just pose their biggest challenge yet, when Les Bleus host the reigning World Cup championships on Saturday.
The encounter comes 10 months out from the start of the World Cup in France, where the teams could face each other in the quarterfinals.
On the back of a 16-19 loss to Ireland last Saturday, the Springboks have been hard at work preparing for this week’s big Test.
Speaking to reporters, Bok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit admitted it’s going to be a very tough encounter.
Du Toit, without conceding too much, also revealed France’s tendency to play with their backline as opposed to their forwards gave the Boks a good idea of how to approach the game.
“France is currently on a good winning streak [having won 11 in a row],” Du Toit said.
“They have the heaviest pack of forwards in world rugby, so we need a different plan for them.
“We have to challenge them in areas where other teams never tested them.
“Their game plan tends to preserve their forwards’ energy and we have to work around that.”
He added: “When we reviewed last weekend’s game [against Ireland] in Dublin, it was quite disappointing and we as a pack did not stick to our plan nor did we deliver on what we said we would do.
“However, the environment around the forwards is always good.
“We always try to make new plans and work on new skills, so we will try to improve this weekend.”
Du Toit revealed one of the areas they want to improve is the mauls.
“We have been working hard to improve our mauls,” he said.
“Opposition teams always come up with new tricks against us and the more we experience that, the better it will be as it allows us to learn to adapt.”
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France’s defensive frailties
Springbok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse is expecting an equally big challenge from the explosive backline of France that includes the likes of Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Thomas Ramos and Gael Fickou.
The 26-year-old will make his third Test start with a new-look back three that sees Willie Le Roux at fullback and Cheslin Kolbe at right wing.
“We’ve been preparing well for the match. We know they kick a lot, so we are expecting that from them,” Arendse said.
“Willie [le Roux] and Cheslin [Kolbe], with the experience they have, have been helping me so much. We are prepared so we must just take it to France.
Arendse added: “We know they don’t want to tire their forwards, so we will try to look for the running option and try to exploit them on the outside.”
When asked how they going to counter France’s dangerous kicking game, Arendse said: “We will handle it. We also have a good kicking game plan. Things might change on the day, but we must be up for whatever France decides to bring. We must be ready to adapt and handle it.”