Backing the Bulls’ blueprint

Victor Matfield says the Springboks will continue to adopt the Bulls’ approach in order to turnaround their poor away form in Australasia.

The Boks have employed similar tactics to the Super 14 champions throughout the home-leg of the Tri-Nations, and the national vice-captain and Bulls leader said this won’t change.

The Boks have also adopted a similar travel approach to the Pretoria team, as the starting XV only arrived in Perth on Wednesday. The Bulls also traveled late to Wellington this year, where they defeated the Hurricanes 19-14 in their first overseas match.

‘We are trying what has worked for the Bulls in the past. It’s not too far to travel here and there’s only a six-hour time difference. Plus there’s a lot of South Africans in Perth to support us, so it’s a bit easier here, but it’s still tough.

‘We’ve also been staying on South African time, staying awake until one/two in the morning and then sleeping until 12, so I was just up in time for this media conference!’ said a bleary-eyed Matfield at Friday’s press conference.

Recently South African Super Rugby teams have generally toured better than in the early stages of the tournament, and Matfield said they hope to translate this into sustained national success on the road. The Boks have won just four of 30 matches in the competition Down Under, but Matfield stressed putting past results behind them.

‘It’s much tougher here than anywhere else because you’re playing against the two top teams in the world, but we have to try and change that psyche of we can’t win away from home,’ he said.

‘It’s tough for any team playing away in the Tri-Nations, but hopefully we can change our poor away record. If you look back to the Super 14, the last few years South African teams have definitely done better over here. We want to do better on this away leg, we need to if we are going to be a successful team.’

Matfield also added that the Boks would continue with the Bulls-like game plan that has been so successful this year.

‘We will play the tactics we like, do what we do well and just try to do it better every week. The Wallabies will be thinking they’re really close to winning a game, to get that turnaround and once they get that win then they will start building confidence. So they will throw everything into tomorrow’s game.’

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans believes the injury to Nathan Sharpe could have a detrimental effect on Matfield’s planning come lineout time, but the Bok No 5 said he won’t be hampered by certain individuals’ presence or exclusion.

‘We did really well at Newlands, that was probably our best ever lineout display against Australia, and we hope we know what’s coming this time. They might try something different with [Mark] Chisholm coming in for Sharpe, but we don’t analyse individual players but team structures, and we have very experienced players who can adapt,’ he said.

‘They might try to throw the ball in quicker, which will make it tough, but then they have to make sure they have the ball under control and their backs are in position.’