Boks must back themselves
Sport24 columnist Corne Krige (File)
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The poor Boks have taken some major flack for their last performance against Scotland. While some of it is fair criticism as it wasn’t their best performance under Heyneke Meyer, they are still unbeaten on tour and that does count for something.
We, the South African public, demand wins from our national side and therefore winning is the first priority. An ugly win is still a win and I’m sure we will take an ugly win against our old foe this weekend.
In 2002, I captained an under-strength Bok side on a European tour and we were none from two after two games and England loomed large in our third game. As things turned out, they were about eight months away from being crowned world champions in Australia. That was a day; I and many South Africans will choose to forget as it turned out to be a record loss for the Boks against England.
Luckily many things have changed since that fateful day at Twickenham 10 years ago. Heyneke has plenty of experienced players in his side and many of them have beaten England at Twickenham before. In recent years, the Springboks have played really well on the hallowed turf of Twickenham and there is no reason why they should not do so again.
England have just come off a surprise loss to a depleted Australian team that took a massive hiding to France the previous weekend. This will no doubt spark a spirited performance from the men in white, but I‘m not convinced that it will be enough to trump the Springboks.
Northern hemisphere rugby is won and lost in the forwards, primarily as a result of the atrocious weather conditions. It is in this department where the Boks have actually excelled over the last few weeks. As South Africans we always seem to breed strong and burly forwards and churn them out on an annual basis.
When Bismarck du Plessis was injured before the tour everybody worried about the hooker position. Along came Adriaan Strauss who has stepped into the breach with two massive performances, one of which earned him a man of the match award.
Beast Mtawarira had to return home before the first Test and everybody was worried about the loosehead position. Most South Africans had probably forgotten about Heinke van der Merwe. He’s been nothing short of sensational every time he’s set foot on the field!
I believe Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger are starting to become a formidable lock pairing and they will always give the team enough lineout possession. Add Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen and add Willem ‘The Bone Collector’ Alberts to that front-five and you have a potentially devastating pack of forwards.
When the Boks faced England earlier in the year, they really dominated the forward exchanges and general collisions. To be honest England were lucky to draw the last game of the series. There is, however, one small difference this weekend and that is the home ground advantage England will enjoy.
With this comes the weather conditions and generally hostile and one-sided crowd of England supporters. These factors will make things a little bit tougher for the Springboks, but I believe we still have the necessary talent to beat England. However, the Boks’ general handling needs to improve and they need to vary their line of attack.
The last time England played in South Africa they read our one-off runners like a book and kept tackling us behind the advantage line. If the Boks go to Twickenham with the same game plan it might turn out to be a long and frustrating game for the players and Springbok supporters alike.
I’m aware that the weather conditions are not conducive to running rugby, but I really believe we can still vary our attack by shifting the contact one channel wider. I would also like to see Patrick Lambie with the ball in hand more and not kicking away possession as often as he did in the last Test.
Let’s hope the players back themselves and show us the incredible skills they possess. I predict the Boks will win it by nine points!Corne Krige represented the Springboks in 39 Tests, 18 of which were as captain.
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