Scotland coach Frank Hadden rates Percy Montgomery as the most influential member of the Springbok line-up.
French Sports daily newspaper, L’quipe, asked Hadden what France have to do to beat the Springboks and his answer, among other things, was to shut down Montgomery.
Hadden said that Montgomery’s ability to read the game and his understanding of rush defence made the Boks such a potent defensive force.
L’quippe’s rugby editor Arnaud David, who interviewed Hadden, told Keo.co.za that Montgomery was regarded by the Scottish coach as highly respected and that he was perceived as the gel that keeps together the Bok backs defensively.
Hadden also told the French that to win in South Africa the French had to be prepared to fight for every blade of grass on Saturday. He described beating South Africa in South Africa as among the most difficult challenges in the game, but felt that the Boks were mentally vulnerable if their dominance on match day was not reflected on the scoreboard.
“Hadden said that if the Boks got early points it was virtually impossible to beat them in South Africa, but if a team managed to stay in touch with them going into the last quarter, then the Bok players started doubting themselves and started to do silly things,” said David. “He also described the Bok lineout as the best defensive lineout in the world, lead by Victor Matfield, but one that was not as effective on their own ball.
“The pack was good without being brilliant and Fourie du Preez limited the Bok backline instead of aiding it.”
Asked if he believed the French could win at Newlands, Hadden said they had the ability but he questioned whether they had the mental strength.
“It is all in the head, he said. France’s attitude will determine whether they give themselves a chance or not. As we saw in Durban and Port Elizabeth last year, you don’t know which French team arrives. The one who comes to play or the one who has already boarded the plane back to Paris.”