Aussie envy at heart of ‘boring’ jibes

Eddie Jones says Australia employ similar tactics to the Springboks and is not concerned by the media barrage the latter are expected to face in Perth.

The build-up to last week’s Bledisloe Test was saturated with jibes from both the Australian and Kiwi press, as well as their respective coaches, about the ‘boring’ Boks.

Jones, who has been involved with the national camps of Australia and South Africa, believes the criticism of the Boks is unfair, as it is an approach sides from both Antipodean nations adopt.

‘The Boks are playing no differently to the way the Crusaders have done down the years, and no one complained about them,’ Jones told keo.co.za. ‘They put the ball down field, put pressure on the opposition, and accumulate points.

‘Australia also don’t play significantly differently from the Springboks. They play the kick/chase, and once they’re in the opposition half, they play off turnovers.

‘You can almost take it [the criticism] as though they are just envious at the way the Boks are executing it.’

When the entire Bok squad arrives in Perth on Wednesday, head coach Peter de Villiers will be the first to meet up with the home press, who are sure to pursue the line of questioning around the Boks’ territorial appreciation and ‘boring’ approach.

‘Knowing the guys who are in charge of the team – John Smit, Victor Matfield, and Fourie du Preez – they won’t be worried with any criticism and will get on with it and take it in their stride,’ said Jones. ‘The coaching staff just mustn’t be seduced into playing differently [which Bok forwards coach Gary Gold stressed wouldn't be the case].’

The difference between the three sides this campaign so far has been the players at the Boks’ disposal who are perfectly suited to this game. Australia meanwhile, have been effected by the injuries of Berrick Barnes and Nathan Sharpe, which have ruled them out of the Test in Perth.

‘Berrick has been key to their play. He allows Matt Giteau to play his natural game, which takes the organisational pressure off him. Although Berrick is not in the No 10 jumper, he takes that role. Whether Adam Ashley-Cooper or Quade Cooper comes in at 12, they are both not a Barnes-type of player.’

Giteau has been disappointing throughout the Tri-Nations, and Jones says he will have to take responsibility without Barnes alongside him if they are to match the Boks in the battle for territorial ascendancy.

‘It wasn’t talked about much, but Matt’s kicking in the last encounter against the Boks didn’t go well at all. Against New Zealand, we didn’t see him enough. The Australian style at the moment doesn’t suit him, he enjoys that flat game taking on defenders. Now they’re playing a New Zealand style where it’s deep and wide and he’s struggling to impose himself in Tests.’

With Nathan Sharpe out, and Rocky Elsom also struggling with injury, the hosts could be severely depleted up front.

‘I know how much the Boks rate Sharpe. Victor has dominated, but Sharpey has done well in the last two seasons and although he has been criticised he will be a significant loss.

‘The set-piece may give the Boks the advantage as they can then dominate territory. They are also a very good attacking team when they get within the final 40m with guys like Fourie du Preez dictating play, while they play with impressive momentum on the ball. They also have nice pace outside 10.

‘I’m not expecting a high-scoring match at Subiaco, traditionally that’s not the way it goes there. There won’t be much in it, maybe a try or a couple of penalties, but Australia just won’t have enough to get home.’

By Grant Ball