Coetzee: Discipline, aerial battle key for Italy

Allister Coetzee (Getty)
Allister Coetzee (Getty)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says that discipline and dealing with contestable kicks will be key against Italy on Saturday.

The Boks take on the Italians in Padova a year after the suffered a shocking 20-18 loss in Florence.

That result is considered one of the lowest points in South African rugby history, and it has prompted Coetzee to treat the Italians this week with the utmost respect. 

READ: Frenchman to ref Boks v Italy

While the Boks are coming off an 18-17 win against France in Paris this past Saturday, the 38-3 thrashing at the hands of Ireland in Dublin two weekends ago is still fresh in the memory. 

That day, the Boks were bossed in the air as Ireland kicked on their outside backs with accuracy all night. 

The Boks were poor in that department, and Coetzee says that winning the contests in the air as well as keeping their discipline will be important against an Italy side he speaks very highly of.

"We have worked on adapting to referees. We have Mr. (Romain) Poite this weekend and it's important for the players to keep working on the discipline," Coetzee said.

"I was really pleased with our effort last week (against France) but in the second half there were one or two silly ones that put us under pressure.

"In these Test matches you're looking at keeping the opposition out, and the one way you can do that is to be very calculated in terms of not conceding penalties.

"Italy has a great driving maul and you can only get to a driving maul from a lineout. And you get to a lineout when you concede penalties and they get a touch-finder. It is a massive focus for us.

"The other big step up we'd like to make is how we deal with 80 minutes of contestable kicks. Every game we have conceded a try. We want to focus completely on handling it well and dealing with it and making sure that the players around the catcher are in a position to take charge."

Coetzee has also suggested that he will not be experimenting with any fringe players for this clash, opting instead to pick his best available side.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 15:00 (SA time).

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