‘Boks need to adapt’

2014-11-04 00:00

DUBLIN — Yes, they will adapt to conditions in the northern hemisphere, but the focus of the Springboks remains on playing excellent, rather than one-dimensional, rugby.

Despite the expectations that Ruan Pienaar will be declared fit today for Saturday’s Test against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer may keep Francois Hougaard and Cobus Reinach as the scrumhalves in his 23-man team.

Pienaar is more suitable for a kicking game and is used to the Emerald Isle’s wet weather, while the Irish weather office has predicted rain in the capital.

“Francois and Cobus are both very capable, and this an excellent chance for them to show what they can do. Hougie has worked hard behind the scenes and has shown what he can do when he gets the chance,” Bok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher said yesterday.

He said the backline were polishing the precise kicking of the scrumhalves, flyhalves and fullbacks.

“It all boils down to accuracy,” he said, adding the players had to take the right decisions after evaluating the flow of the game.

Handré Pollard, whose attack on the All Blacks helped the Boks win, will also be developed on flyhalf.

Loubscher said Pollard with ball in hand is a big threat to any opposing team. He kicks a good tactical game and has excellent strategy. “This is exactly what a coach looks for,” Loubscher said.

He said for the Bok game everything is about seeing gaps and making the most of situations in which they can beat the opposing players with speed.

Pollard did exactly this against the All Blacks. He cut through the back-door defence, provided by the Kiwi loosehead prop Joe Moody and lock Sam Whitelock, for his first try. For his second try, he beat the New Zealand halves Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett.

He said it is the plan of the Boks to play running rugby, but the team has to adapt to wet conditions for a few games in the rugby championship.

“It makes things difficult, but the conditions were very good for our home Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks,” Loubscher.

The Boks started the week with a few injuries. Pienaar was comfortable during his fitness test, but will undergo a final check today to inspect his leg after having spent six weeks off with a bad knee.

Bryan Habana (left wing) suffered a light elbow injury in Toulon against Grenoble at the weekend and did not take part in yesterday’s exercises. Oupa Mohoje (number seven flank) suffered a knock to his knee and joined Habana on the sideline. Both should, however, be fit to play on Saturday.

Gurthrö Steenkamp was in a lot of pain when the studded boot of a teammate landed on his foot during a lineout practice, but it looks as if he would have been on the bench anyway to give reserve loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane a runt, with Coenie Oosthuizen probably scrumming in the tight head spot.

As he did before the Test against the All Blacks, Duane Vermelulen is nursing sore ribs, but this time around the coaches are not losing sleep on his availability. Bok team doctor Craig Roberts said the injury is muscle-related and Vemeulen is reacting well to treatment.

Major rugby union internationals in November:

Nov 8: England v New Zealand, Twickenham

Wales v Australia, Cardiff

France v Fiji, Marseille

Ireland v South Africa, Dublin

Scotland v Argentina, Murrayfield

Nov 15: Italy v Argentina, Genova

England v South Africa, Twickenham

Wales v Fiji, Cardiff

Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield

France v Australia, Paris

Nov 16: Ireland v Georgia, Dublin

Nov 22: Italy v South Africa, Padova

Scotland v Tonga, Kilmarnock

Ireland v Australia, Dublin

Wales v New Zealand, Cardiff

England v Samoa, Twickenham

France v Argentina, Paris

Nov 29: England v Australia, Twickenham

Wales v South Africa, Cardiff. — Sapa-AFP.

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