All Black loose forward Kieran Reid says they are making a concerted effort to improve their lineout and breakdown work ahead of Saturday’s Test against the Springboks.
Those were the facets of play the Blacks struggled most in, with Springbok second rower Victor Matfield unlocking their lineout codes and ensuring that they struggled to utilise it as an attacking platform, while Heinrich Brussow was omnipresent at the rucks, slowing the recycle and in so doing stifling the fluidity of their attack.
Reid, who is tipped to crack the run-on side for Saturday’s Test, highlighted those facets of play as crucial to the outcome of the King’s Park fixture.
‘Our lineout is not functioning at the moment. There is space to exploit at the lineouts, even though Victor Matfield makes it really difficult for us with his anticipation and movement, and we need to try to find that space,’ Reid told keo.co.za.
‘It’s a similar story at the breakdowns. We just need to muck up there and keep our discipline. We were disappointed with our discipline at the breakdowns because we are pretty happy with our defence. We’ve got to back our ‘D’ and stay patient [at the rucks]. We can all learn a few lessons from [openside flank] Richie McCaw in that regard.’
In addition to the joy they gained at the above mentioned facets of play, the Springboks also profited from a relatively direct approach, which emphasised utilising their powerful ball carriers in the forwards. Reid expected a similar avenue of attack, and said the experience of the Springboks’ heavies made them formidable opponents.
‘They’re a pretty settled unit, there haven’t been too many new faces in the pack for the last couple of years and that’s always beneficial,’ he explained.
‘You have to work really hard to get anything out of them, and they have the forwards to dominate you, which is the difference between them and Australia.’
Despite the precarious position the Blacks now find themselves in, they looked upbeat and focussed at their training session in Durban on Monday afternoon. Reid said there was a tangible belief that they could take the points at King’s Park.
‘It’s nice to have another crack at the Springboks and the boys are certainly up for it,’ he said.
‘We’ll consider this tour a reasonable success should we come away with a win, but that’s going to be another massive challenge.’
By Ryan Vrede, in Durban