Heinrich Brussow accepts that it’s primarily his job to blunt George Smith but stressed that breakdown success would demand a collective effort.
Bossing the breakdown will no doubt be decisive to the outcome of Test in Perth. It is a facet of play the Springboks have excelled in recently, with Brussow leading the charge in that regard.
He’ll be pitted against one of the game’s finest scavengers in the Wallabies’ captain, but was adamant that Smith would be closely watched by the team as well, and explained that his role extended beyond a ground-level scrap.
‘We all focus on the team. If I only look at No 6 and Jean de Villiers only looks at No 12, there will be holes in our defence very quickly and we’ll be in trouble,’ Brussow said.
Brussow has excelled in Schalk Burger’s suspension-enforced absence and has subsequently retained a starting berth despite the blond flank having served his eight-week ban for unsportsmanlike behaviour in the second Test against the British & Irish Lions.
He, however, stressed that he is privileged to be in the same side as Burger and gushed in a schoolboy manner about competing with and against some other top Test flankers.
‘Schalk Burger was my hero. He was young and therefore it was easy to identify with him. The same applies to Juan Smith, who is an outstanding player and at the same union as me. Overseas? George Smith – he has the same build as me and put fetchers back on the map,’ he said.
‘Schalk is an asset wherever he goes. He is a brilliant No 6 and it means the world to us to have him back. I believe we can easily play in the same side, but Juan Smith is equally special and it’s difficult to exclude him,’ he said.
Brussow felt that the Springboks had done well to adapt to the differing interpretations of the breakdown from various referees but was confident that New Zealander Bryce Lawrence would allow a fair contest there.
‘You can’t point fingers at referees. They have a tough job,’ he said. ‘Nobody can see everything. If you concentrate hard on the scrums, it becomes difficult to police the offside line. At some stage referees will make mistakes.’