Boks aim to squeeze Blacks

Heyneke Meyer says the Springboks’ best chance of beating the world champions is through a superior forward showing as well as a pin-point tactical kicking display.

The Boks thrashed the Wallabies last Saturday, running in five tries. It was a superb all-round effort where the Boks executed their game plan perfectly and a change at flyhalf made all the difference to their attack.

The Boks have not, as some fans and critics suggest, changed their game plan. Meyer has made it clear that not much will change when the Boks tackle the All Blacks at Soccer City, although he did concede that it would be a far tighter match, a real arm-wrestle.

‘We will never beat them by playing them at their own game,’ Meyer said. ‘We won’t out-manoeuvre or out-run them. No, if we’re going to beat them we must force them to play our game. We will have to put the necessary pressure on them, on defence, at the breakdown and through our kicking game.’

The Bok pack has been in outstanding form recently, turning in a powerful display in Dunedin that unfortunately wasn’t translated into scoreboard dominance.

The forwards produced another platform-setting performance in Pretoria, and Meyer lauded the collective after Saturday’s game. On Monday, he was still reaching for the superlatives, and stating that another hard-nosed display was needed to upset the All Blacks.

‘I’ve been very happy with them, and I think [assistant coach] Johan van Graan must take a lot of the credit too. We’ve suffered some big losses this year. We lost three quality locks [Victor Matfield retired, while Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw are now playing abroad]. We’ve also lost a number of loose forwards to injury [Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Pierre Spies to name a few], but the forwards that have come in have done an outstanding job.

‘They were superb in that loss in Dunedin, and again in Pretoria. I think Andries Bekker played his best Test last Saturday, he had a very high work rate. He is really starting to hit form. Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen have also stepped up, and I’m happy with the way that loose-forward combination is working, also with Marcell Coetzee coming off the bench.

‘Suddenly we’re competing against the best in the world,’ Meyer continued. ‘It will be another huge test for us again this Saturday.’

The Bok coach did concede that dominance up front is meaningless if you can’t convert that pressure into points. Last Saturday was the first time that the Boks played with confidence and converted their attacking chances. Meyer hopes this will be carried through to the next Test, and that the Boks will also improve on their erratic goal-kicking.

He intimated that the side that fronts the All Blacks won’t differ from the one that started against the Wallabies, unless of course injuries force his hand.

‘I like to plan for the long-term, I don’t like to chop and change. They are playing with more confidence, and they are starting to execute the game plan. That confidence can be contagious.

‘Somebody told me today that we are now ranked No 2 in the world. I don’t like to talk about myself, but when I started we were ranked No 4. So we are doing something right. It’s a process, and if we win this weekend, we would have not lost a home game in 2012. It will show that we’ve come a long way.’

By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg