Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has told the New Zealand media his team has the blueprint to beat the All Blacks in Albany on Saturday. But former Bok coach Nick Mallett isn’t as convinced.
The last time the Springboks won against the All Blacks in New Zealand was in 2009.
Coetzee’s 2016 Springboks conceded 15 tries and 98 points in two Tests against the world champions last year, but Coetzee’s 2017 squad is made of sterner stuff and is certainly greater in player and coaching quality.
The Springboks, with five wins and a draw in 2017, are a vastly superior outfit and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has publicly acknowledged the threat of the Springboks in this season’s Castle Rugby Championship.
Hansen said he had been impressed with the Springboks in all six their Test matches and rated the Boks and the Wallabies as very good sides.
The Springboks and Wallabies drew 23-all in Perth and the All Blacks beat Argentina 39-22 for a third successive Rugby Championship win. Victory against the Boks would in all probability seal yet another New Zealand Rugby Championship title.
But Coetzee insisted that his ever-improving and evolving Bok squad could be victorious.
The Bok coach said the defending tournament champions and `current world champions remain the best in the business, but felt they were fallible after a drawn series against the British and Irish Lions and indifferent performances against Australia and Argentina.
‘It will be a hell of a battle. They’re still the best side in world rugby, but Argentina show that when you’re accurate and you apply pressure in all the areas of the game, you can take them on.’
Coetzee told the travelling South African media that the Boks had the set piece game to trouble New Zealand and a defensive structure to further frustrate the All Blacks.
‘We are continuing to scrum well and we are happy with that. Our lineout play has been very good this year and there’s been a massive improvement in our mauling,’ said Coetzee.
SuperSport analyst and former Springbok coach Nick Mallett felt there had to be big improvements with the Springboks defensive approach, as well as their exit kicking if South Africa were to have a chance of beating the All Blacks.
Mallet described the Boks defensive effort against the Wallabies as ‘too passive’ and was also very critical of flyhaf Elton Jantjies’s exit kicking game.
‘In this match [against Australia], they were going for long exit kicks and playing two pods of fowards up, then [they] passed it deep to Elton [Jantjes] or Andries Coetzee, who would kick it long, which gave [Israel] Folau 20 to 30m on the defensive line to take the ball up and make good decisions whether to hold on to the ball or move it two passes across the field,’ said Mallett.
‘The defensive approach was also too passive. For most of the game, they waited for the Australian backline to play their moves, and unfortunately they just kept on retaining possession.
‘They can’t give the opposition that much time off the ball. They have to make those kicks contestable.’
If they don’t, a side like New Zealand will utilise that space much better than Australia did.”
Mallett said Jantjes had ‘grown enormously’ as a player in 2017, but had made too many errors in Perth, including a kickoff that did not go 10m, missing touch with a penalty, which ended up in three points for Australia, some inaccurate field kicking and the regulation penalty that he hooked to the right.
‘To beat Australia and New Zealand away, you can’t make those kinds of unforced errors when you are not even under pressure.
‘He is expected to kick the ball over the posts, he is expected to kick the ball out over the touchline, and he is expected to kick the ball 10 yards from the halfway line at a kickoff.
‘The Boks would have won if Elton just got those three issues right.’