Improved Boks to face All Blacks, says Coetzee

2017-10-12 06:00

SPRINGBOK coach Allister Coetzee reckons his team are in a good space and ready to show what they learnt from the Albany disaster when they clash with the All Blacks in their final Castle Lager Rugby Championship fixture in Cape Town on Saturday.

After a 57-0 loss the previous time the two teams met and a similar big margin on home soil at King’s Park, you’d imagine that the Boks would have a few ghosts to exorcise.

But while the 27-all draw to the Wallabies on home soil at the weekend would have felt like a loss to many supporters as it was at altitude, where the Australians have a long history of failure, Coetzee begs to differ with that perception.

“The performance was what we wanted after the big defeat to the All Blacks in Albany and while we did not win the game I felt that we did well to bounce back from such a big defeat in the previous match.

“I thought the way we played was really good, although obviously a couple of opportunities went abegging and there were quite a few tries left on the table. We weren’t happy with that. Had we made full use of our opportunities we would have scored a good win.

“What happened to us in Albany is just the name of the game these days against the All Blacks. You can’t afford to make so many punishable mistakes against the All Blacks as they will quickly get away from you. That was the case when they played Australia in Sydney early in the competition. In no time at all the All Blacks were 46-3 up.”

Coetzee said that while the fans were disappointed at the margin of defeat in Albany, the players had taken a more realistic view after the game.

“We have already moved on from that performance. We did that before we played Australia, where I felt we made several big improvements,” said the coach.

“To beat the All Blacks you don’t just pitch up. Everything has to be meticulously planned and you have to have most of the areas of your game perfect. We made mistakes in Albany and then it just snowballed and we were a long way behind. You cannot afford not to start well against the All Blacks. You have got to have strong setpieces and strong lineouts, and you have to make sure your plan is in place.

“We know the All Blacks hit you hard at the breakdowns and they create a lot for themselves through their strength in that area of the game. We have to be ready for a contest all over the field at Newlands and we just have to make sure we hold onto our possession better than we did in the last game. I felt we improved a lot between Albany and Bloemfontein where we were perhaps unlucky against a fine Australian team that included several world-class players and I expect us to improve again at Newlands.”

Coetzee said that while historically the Boks may have won games against the All Blacks by sticking to a conservative game-plan, he wanted to stick with the ball-in-hand philosophy that, although there wasn’t a good conversion rate, did take a step up in Bloemfontein.

“We all know the game has moved on and we can’t just present the ball to the opposition on a platter. They are a quality side and there is no one way to beat the All Blacks. We need to ensure we protect our possession when carrying the ball and cut down on the penalties we give away. But we were pleased with the amount of opportunities we created against Australia. The finishing is still to come, but that was a step in the right direction.”

There is just one injury-enforced early week withdrawal from the Bok squad, with Uzair Cassiem having to cry off with a rib injury that should take six weeks to rectify itself. Coetzee said he won’t be calling for replacements from outside the squad.

“We have brought back the guys that we released to play Currie Cup at the weekend and we feel we have plenty of cover, with Dan du Preez [who has plenty of experience as a No 8] among the players who have rejoined us.”

Du Preez, Raymond Rhule, Wilco Louw and S’busiso Nkosi re-joined the Springbok squad in Cape Town following their involvement in the weekend’s Currie Cup and Guinness PRO14 competitions. — SuperSport.

To beat the All Blacks you don’t just pitch up. Everything has to be meticulously planned and you have to have most of the areas of your game perfect.

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