Boks more than just kick-chase

Springbok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher says the team showed its true potential in the first half of the second Test against England.

There weremixed reactions after the Springboks’ 2-0 series victory over the Poms in June. There were moments where the Springboks impressed and dominated proceedings, but also moments where plans and tactics were executed poorly because of individual errors and team inconsistencies, especially when it came to the breakdown battle and tactical kicking game.

However, it has to be noted that the Boks only had several days to prepare for the three Tests against England. So the erratic performances were somewhat expected. And the fact that Heyneke Meyer’s charges sealed a series triumph was a commendable achievement.

But it will be interesting to see where this leaves the Boks ahead of the Rugby Championship. With the absence of key players and certain vulnerabilities exposed against England, the Boks will face a tougher challenge against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

However, Loubscher believed that they have the variety in their arsenal to do the job during the tournament. In the opening 40 of the 36-27 victory over England at Ellis Park, the Boks proved this with their breakdown dominance and their upper hand at the collisions.

‘We definitely showed our true potential during the first of the second Test,’ Loubscher told keo.co.za. ‘We proved how effective our game plan is when we do it right. The trick is to get that momentum going for two halves.

‘I think the biggest lesson we can take out of the series against England was our counter-attacking abilities. We scored a couple of good tries on the counter-attack,’ he continued. ‘That’s something that I’m very excited about and we will take that into account during our preparations.

‘If you think about it, you only have an average of five scrums per match, with two of them being attacking scrums. You’ll have a couple of more lineouts to work from. So you have limited chances from set pieces. So when you have counter-attacking opportunities, you have to use them and turn them into points.

‘That’s the kind of thing that makes the All Blacks such a good team. They use their chances. They have set the benchmark in this regard.’

During the interview, some journalists were stressing about the Boks adapting to the wet weather in Cape Town. Over the weekend, we saw WP struggling in the rainy conditions under the high ball against the Sharks and conceded three soft tries in their 25-23 defeat at Newlands.

The weather forecast predicts a clear day in the Mother City over the weekend, but Loubscher said the Boks will prepared for any scenario.

‘Before any game, you have to consider the weather and conditions. If it rains, we have a “Plan B” to follow,’ said Loubscher. ‘A good tactical kicking game is important at Test level. And it is very effective when it’s executed correctly. We just need to prepare properly, and prepare to defend it too.

‘Our focus right now is on Argentina. We don’t have a lot of information on their players, but some of their guys have played for the Pampas XV in the Vodacom Cup and for their national sevens team. From what I’ve seen, they’re very physical and they will punish you with ball in hand if they get the opportunity to do so.’

By Gareth Duncan, in Cape Town