Boks need to attack, says Meyer

2013-08-17 00:00

THE Springboks will face a major challenge in the scrums, but this should not prevent them from overpowering Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener at Soccer City this evening.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has selected a brawny, ponderous pack — with ace kicker Morné Steyn at flyhalf. However, this week he talked about his players attacking more with the ball in hand.

“In my 15 matches in charge of the Springboks, we’ve conceded on average one try per game. I’m confident that the guys can defend … what I want to see is the guys go out there with an attacking mindset.

“I’ve always believed that attack is the best form of defence,” Meyer said.

This may all sound out of character for the former Blue Bulls coach, but he has backed his words with the selection of the alert Willie le Roux (rather than Zane Kirchner) at fullback and lively outside backs in Bryan Habana, Bjorn Basson and JJ Engelbrecht.

Indeed, he has most bases covered with the Boks able to play a tactical, territorial game around Steyn’s kicking game or adopt a more attacking approach with Le Roux providing the spark.

The addition to the back row of the rusty, 116 kg number eight Duane Vermeulen — he joins the 120 kg Willem Alberts and Francois Louw (112 kg) — will add a harsh, physical edge to the Springboks’ forward play. On the down side, and if the Pumas are able to play with some width, the Bok pack will be short of pace in the open spaces.

But it is at scrum-time that the Boks face their greatest challenge. The revised laws, which have taken the “hit” out of the game, will be in use for the first time and will be a test of endurance and cohesion. The Pumas pride themselves on their scrumming and the law change suits their “bajada” technique, which channels a concerted shove through the hooker.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, in his pre-Test press briefing yesterday, said his team were ready for the Puma onslaught.

“We are expecting anything and everything and we are well prepared for whatever they throw at us,” De Villiers said. “They are renowned for their scrummaging, but we have come a long way in that area and I think we will be up for the challenge.”

He said that Argentina would also be better than last year and both he and Meyer expect the Pumas to be more expansive in their approach.

The Boks are sharing the Soccer City stage with Bafana Bafana, who meet Burkina Faso earlier in the day, as part of a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

“I hope we can put up a good performance, get the right result and bring a smile to Madiba’s face,” De Villiers said.

And, if his wish is granted, it will not be the first time that Madiba has brought out the best in Springbok rugby.


South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Fourie du Preez, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Argentina: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Matias Diaz, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Juan Figallo.

Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Julio Farias Cabello, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Fernandez, 23 Horacio Agulla.

Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ). Kick-off: 5 pm.

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