Stick: 'B&I Lions are not going to tell us how to play'
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has responded to claims that his players were deliberately trying to slow the game down during the second Test in the Lions series.
After the Springboks’ convincing 27-9 win in the second test, B&I Lions head coach Warren Gatland said he would be speaking to the referees about ensuring a faster tempo for the series-deciding third Test in Cape Town.
Gatland said the slow tempo of last Saturday’s match, which lasted 126 minutes, had been frustrating and contributed to the Lions being unable to impose themselves.
“We felt like [at] every scrum there was an injury, slowing the game down. There was something like 14 minutes of TMO. It was really, really stop-start,” Gatland told reporters earlier this week.
“That made it frustrating for us. We want to keep the tempo of the game up, to get a flow.
“South Africa at the moment don’t want to do that.”
In Friday’s online press conference, Stick said his players are not to blame for the slow tempo and they will not be told how to play the game from someone outside of their camp.
“The person who is in charge of the whistle is the ref. When there are TMO calls and the refs need more time to make decisions according to what they see on the screen, that has got nothing to do with us,” said Stick
“I don’t recall any of our players doing anything to slow the ball down.
“People must understand, the TMO is part of the game also, so if he needs two minutes to make a decision, that is not in our control.
“The best we can do as a Springbok team is to control the ball in play. We control the tempo and how we want to play the game.
“If they [B&I Lions] want to lift the tempo, that is their plan. If we want to slow the ball down and make it boring, we will do that.
“We don’t go into a game intentionally trying to slow things down.
“If the British and Irish Lions want to play touch rugby then that will be nice for us.
“They are more than welcome to do so. We are not going to decide what they must do and they are not going to tell us how to play the game. We will play according to our strengths.”
‘We can’t leave a man behind’
Off-the-ball skirmishes also contributed to the many stoppages last weekend and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said it was part of the game.
“We play what’s in front of us. Whatever is happening in the game we will be involved,” said Kolisi.
“If there is niggle in the set-pieces we are going to get involved. We can’t leave a man behind. That is just our system.”
Additional source: AFP