Petoors to take control

Andre Pretorius admits that he will have to play a lot smarter against England than he has in his last two Tests.

“It’s not the comeback to northern hemisphere rugby that I wanted,” he told keo.co.za when asked about his performances on this tour. “But after a really bad game, you stand there and you wish for another chance. That’s something that I’m getting this weekend. I’m really looking forward to dominating this upcoming game, playing the role that a flyhalf should be playing.”

Pretorius replaces the injured Butch James for the second Test against England at Twickenham this Saturday. In the previous fixture, he made a couple of mistakes that gave the home side the opportunity to fight back after the Boks had held a commanding lead. Pretorius concedes that a cooler head may have seen a different result to the much anticipated clash between two desperate teams.

“There was that kick that didn’t go out, as well as the kick that I booted out directly. I should have just taken my time with that first kick. Steve Walsh rushed me a bit by telling me to get on with the game despite an injured CJ van der Linde laying in my path.

“But that’s absolutely no excuse, I should have calmed myself, set my target and put it out. Instead I rushed it, and well, everybody saw what happened.”

Against Ireland a week earlier, Pretorius had a similar game where he struggled to find any semblance of control. Playing behind a pack that was being bullied by the home team, he looked ordinary, and the inclement weather did not improve the situation. However, Pretorius states that a quality player rises above the circumstance, and you have no one but yourself to blame for a poor performance.

“It wasn’t the best conditions, but that’s where a really great player should have put his foot forward and said ‘I’m going to take hold of this game’.

“As for the pack affecting my own game, if I couldn’t handle it, I would have gone to John Smit and told him what was not working. It says something when a 19 year old [Frans Steyn]comes out when things aren’t going your way and plays the game of his life. There’s actually no excuse for it; the bad conditions do not necessarily dictate poor play.”

The Boks play a third midfield combination in as many weeks, but Pretorius is certain that the changes forced by injury will have no adverse effects.

“We defended really well last week, and the combinations seem to be working. After the Ireland Test, we placed a lot more emphasis on our defensive game. It’s such an important aspect, as it gets us motivated as a team and gives us our rhythm.”

By Jon Cardinelli, in London