VIDEO: B&I Lions preparing for massive 'aerial bombardment'
The Springboks appear to be an open book to British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland, who believes he knows exactly what to expect from South Africa in the first Test in Cape Town on Saturday.
In the modern era of excessive analyses, you would expect all international coaches to have a fairly good idea about the qualities of the opposition.
Gatland, however, believes he has seen enough in one game to know exactly what the Boks’ game plan will be in the opening encounter of the three-Test series.
He believes the South Africans will rely on ‘brute force’ to overpower the tourists.
Gatland described the past week as “brilliant” in terms of their preparations – especially what they got out of the 13-17 loss to the SA ‘A’ team last Wednesday.
“That [‘A’ team match] gives us an insight into what to expect [in the first Test] on Saturday,” the B&I Lions coach said.
He suggested Bok coach Jacques Nienaber and SA’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus showed their hand in fielding an almost full-strength team (in the guise of SA ‘A’) in the midweek outing against the B&I Lions.
(Article continues below the video …)
“We are expecting a lot of runners off No.9,” Gatland told @rugby365com, when asked what aspects of the game they will focus on this week.
“We have got to match the Springboks with that physicality coming off No.9 and getting some go-forward,” he added.
“That is one area we are going to work on.”
He added that the Bok kicking game is another aspect they will focus on this week.
“How much they are prepared to kick the ball – whether that is Faf [Francois de Klerk], Morne Steyn or Handre Pollard or whoever at No.10, we expect a lot of kicking in the game,” the B&I Lions coach said.
“With a lot of teams you might get 20-odd kicks in a game, but with the Springboks, it goes up to 40-odd.
“It’s an area we need to do a lot of work this week – in terms of our aerial game, our kick chase, getting back and supporting players.
“We need to be prepared to stay in that arm-wrestle, because we are expecting a lot of kicks.”
Gatland is confident his team’s defensive system will be up to the task of holding out the green waves coming in their direction.
“With our defence, we have kept improving.
“We haven’t conceded a pick-and-go try on this tour yet and that to me has been a pleasing thing.
“It’s one of the strengths of South African rugby.
“When they get five metres out from the line, whether that is with the maul or with their pick-and-go, they tend to convert on a number of occasions and we haven’t conceded a try in that area yet.
“But it is an area we will still keep working hard on in the week making sure we hopefully won’t concede there.”