Boks must adapt: Van Graan

Johann van Graan (Gallo)
Johann van Graan (Gallo)

Pretoria - The Springboks are looking to adapt better to the way referees interpret the breakdown area, forwards coach Johann van Graan said on Tuesday.

After securing victories over Italy and Scotland, South Africa face Samoa in Pretoria on Saturday in the final of a four-nation series.

“In the first Test (against Italy) we were pretty happy with the breakdowns, but credit to Scotland who slowed our ball down in the first 40 minutes,” Van Graan said.

“We decided as a team we've got to adapt quicker to the interpretation and we just have to keep working harder and hopefully we’ll go well over the weekend.”

Van Graan said the main reason for the slow ball was that tacklers did not roll away as quickly as the South Africans were accustomed.

He said it was the responsibility of all 15 players to clean out the breakdown, to ensure the team had quick ball from which to attack.

While the Boks had reason to moan about the way the breakdowns were officiated against Scotland, Van Graan said they opted rather for introspection.

“We learned last year on the Northern Hemisphere tour that every breakdown is a contest. Teams test the referee and they get away with things,” he said.

“It’s not about moaning about it afterwards. We've got to sort it out on the field.

“There are instances that people get away with stuff and I’m sure we get away with one or two things as well.“

He said the Boks set high standards for themselves and they were not satisfied with the way they adapted to challenges, particularly in the first half of the match against Scotland.

“Rugby is an 80 minute game and we want to perform over 80 minutes this weekend,” he said.

“We strive for the perfect game every weekend and we are quite disappointed if we don’t get that.

“If we want to become the best team, we've got to have the breakdown, so it is all about us and fixing our problems.”

The Springboks will face a tough challenge against Samoa, the standout team during the first two weeks of the series.

The Samoans will also have a score to settle after their 13-5 defeat to the Boks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The Pacific Islanders have in the past forced their way onto teams through brute force as they used their physical presence to their benefit.

Van Graan, however, believed they would face a more tactically astute Samoan team this weekend, which made them an even greater threat.

“They have a pretty simple plan but they execute that plan pretty well, especially from broken field.

"You don’t just have to watch their backs, their forwards are pretty big units and they can carry the ball.

“They’ve definitely gained a lot and they are good at the breakdown, they're good at their running lines and they can play a tactical battle.”

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