With the British and Irish Lions set to tour South Africa in 2021 former assistant coach Gary Gold believes the Springboks' loose trio helped secure the 2009 series between the two teams.
Speaking to Rugby World magazine, Gold said other than their direct style of play, the Springboks' strength over the ball helped them defeat the visitors 2-1 in what was an epic series.
“One of the biggest untold stories of that Lions’ series was our strength over the ball," said Gold.
"John Smit moved to tighthead to accommodate Bismarck du Plessis, who was at the height of his game. Bismarck is so good at the breakdown, and Jean de Villiers is another who doesn’t get enough credit in this area," he added.
Gold also praised Juan Smith and Schalk Burger, but singled out Heinrich Brüssow for his limpet-like ability over the ball.
“Juan Smith and Schalk Burger were good at the breakdown, but Heinrich Brüssow was world class. So if you looked at our team, we had the potential to put a genuine poacher on the ball at every second or third ruck. We were a threat across the field if the Lions didn’t get their cleaners to the breakdown on time."
South Africa won the first test in Durban 26-21 and clinched the series at Loftus Versfeld when they were victorious in the second Test, winning a close fought encounter 28-25 after flyhalf Morne Steyn landed a 52-metre penalty two minutes into injury time.
The Lions won the third Test 28-9.
The 2021 tour sees the Springboks take on the Lions in three Tests on 24 and 31 July and 7 August next year.
The visitors will also play five other matches on tour.
Read the full interview here.
- Compiled by Sport24 staff