Fleck: No room for razzle-dazzle
21 Jul 2011
Robbie Fleck says that Saturday’s Test will be a tight, forward-oriented affair and that Quade Cooper will be well contained.
The Wallabies will head into this game as favourites. They’re playing at home, they’re playing an inexperienced Springbok side, and they’re desperate to improve on a shocking showing against Samoa.
They should beat the Boks comfortably, and because of last Sunday’s humiliation, there will be no risk of complacency.
Peter de Villiers remains hopeful. He’s spoken about winning the forward battles and starving Wallabies halfbacks Will Genia and Quade Cooper of quality possession. It’s a tactic that if successful will go a long way to winning the game.
The Wallabies harbour similar ambitions of forward dominance, but will try to maximise the talents of their back division. There is talk of an expansive approach, and some of the more optimistic Aussie critics have suggested that a four-try bonus point is there for the taking.
Fleck, however, doesn’t believe the likes of Cooper will have the attacking space that was afforded to him in the Super Rugby tournament, and says that the Wallabies will have to work hard to penetrate the Bok defence.
‘Test rugby is a completely different ball game,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘Cooper won’t have the kind of freedom he had in Super Rugby; the Bok defence is going to be gunning for him. The Boks will concentrate on winning the collisions and the battle at the set-piece, and from there they will work hard to cut down the space of Genia and Cooper.
‘We’re not going to see Cooper getting away those miracle passes. He’s just not going to have the time. I don’t think were going to see much running rugby at all, it’s going to be a battle for territory, and the Boks are going to look to tackle the Wallabies backward and force them to make mistakes.’
The Reds played four of South Africa’s five franchises in the recent Super Rugby tournament and won all four matches. Genia and Cooper were at the centre of those victories, and were particularly impressive in the win at Newlands.
As a Stormers assistant coach, Fleck watched as the Reds’ pack dominated their Cape counterparts and then played for territory. If the Wallabies obtain the edge up front but struggle to breach the Bok defensive line, they may look to implement a similarly tactical approach.
But this could also provide a potentially dangerous Bok back three with counter-attacking opportunities. Gio Aplon is a particularly lethal runner from broken field.
‘I get the feeling that the Boks will keep it pretty tidy and conservative, and if they get onto the front foot, they have the pace outside to finish,’ said Fleck. ‘But with guys like Gio, Lwazi Mvovo and Bjorn Basson, they also have some dangerous runners when the game is less structured. Hopefully they can punish the Aussies if they make the mistake of losing their structure.
‘But I don’t think it’s going to be that kind of game. The battle up front as well as the battle for territory is going to be decisive.’
By Jon Cardinelli