Discipline will be crucial for Boks

2017-11-16 06:01
Lukhanyo Am appears to be up against Damian de Allende for the Springbok No. 12 jersey this week.PHOTO: gallo

Lukhanyo Am appears to be up against Damian de Allende for the Springbok No. 12 jersey this week.PHOTO: gallo

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SPRINGBOK coach Allister Coetzee says managing New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe will be key in Saturday’s clash against Ireland.

Coetzee’s side are underdogs for the fixture after having lost all four of their matches on their 2016 end-of-year tour, and they are currently fifth in the world rankings with Ireland fourth.

While the Boks will still have the advantage of having a southern hemisphere referee for their tour opener on Saturday, Coetzee has highlighted the side’s discipline all over the park as key to the cause.

“The referee interpretation is going to be crucial for us,” Coetzee said.

“In any Test you lose momentum when you give away simple penalties that give the opposition team an opportunity for a driving maul or to kick it out ... we’ve got to make sure that the discipline is right up there,” he added.

In terms of where the Boks had improved on last year’s trip to the northern hemisphere, Coetzee was clear.

“Last year, this time I was personally worried about our conditioning,” he said.

“I’ve got no fears at all this time. I think we understand that you can’t come here with a southern hemisphere mind-set and try and play in the northern hemisphere. We have to adapt.

“The physicality is a given, but we’ve got to be smart within our detail this week.

“They have good running lines and we’ll have to make sure that, defensively, we can stop them from all angles of the field.”

Kickoff on Saturday is at 7.30 pm SA time.

For the match, Coetzee has a midfield selection dilemma on his hands.

In all nine Tests so far this year, he has paired Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel as his centre combination.

That partnership has been largely impressive throughout 2017, but with Serfontein unavailable as he settles into life at Montpellier, Coetzee must now find a new No. 12 to partner with Kriel.

There appear three options for the Bok coach — Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am and Francois Venter.

De Allende has made five appearances for the Boks this year — all of them coming off the bench.

With limited opportunities, he has not been able to get anywhere near the promise he showed during 2014 and 2015.

It has been a frustrating couple of years for the 25-year-old, but given that he was the midfield cover from the bench for five of the six Rugby Championship matches this year, he is the logical choice to be next in line in Serfontein’s absence.

Am’s day in a Springbok jersey is coming, of that there is no doubt. Having been used primarily as a No. 13 in Super Rugby this year, No. 12 is actually his most natural position.

He certainly has the ability to run hard, straight lines and he can be the ball-carrying No. 12 that Coetzee may want on this tour.

Venter was one of the more surprising additions to the touring party. It is not that Venter doesn’t have the pedigree — he earned three Test caps last year — but given Serfontein’s absence, most thought Coetzee would turn to Lions powerhouse Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Venter, though, has been drafted in to the set-up and he will be very keen on getting on the park.

Handré Pollard is up against Elton Jantjies for the flyhalf spot, but is also able to cover No. 12.

— Sport24.

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