Backing the Boks
Sport24 columnist Jaco Taute (Gallo Images)
While I’ll be at Kings Park cheering on the Springboks on Saturday, first prize would have been lining up against the Italians, had I been selected. I never enjoy watching the game from the sidelines owing to injury, but the positive is that I’m making steady progress in my recovery.
It’s never easy dealing with injuries but we are fortunate in South African rugby to have strength in depth. When injury hits, I believe that it paves the way for another player to show his steel.
This June Test series represents an ideal opportunity for the Bok coaching staff to try out new combinations against opposition, who in truth, aren’t the toughest in world rugby.
I believe that Heyneke has selected a strong squad with a good blend of youth and experience. He has stated that he will be loyal to performance rather than players, which is great because players will then work even hard for places. Competition is always healthy and guards against a complacent mindset.
In my time with the Boks, I have found Heyneke to be an awesome coach. He is disciplined, holds traditional values and is passionate about Springbok rugby. He is a coach that really studies the game and knows the ins and outs of Test rugby.
Along with less time and space, in Test rugby one cannot afford to make many mistakes. Every aspect is tighter and closer in terms of attack and defence. It’s essential to minimise mistakes and put pressure on the opposition.
The Boks are currently searching for balance between attack, defence and their kicking game. During last year’s Rugby Championship, the All Blacks kicked even more than the Springboks did, so it comes down to the accuracy of kick execution.
As a player, I like to attack the ball and I’m generally not a very big fan of kicking the ‘golden egg’ back to the opposition. However, a well-drilled kicking game can put pressure on the opposition and at times works to a team’s advantage.
As it’s the first Test match of the season, I believe the Boks will aim to gain the edge upfront before incorporating their backs into the game. It isn’t advisable to throw the ball around from the start after only one week of training together.
While Italy are not renowned for their world ranking, they had a brilliant Six Nations in which they finished above both Ireland and France.
However, I don’t believe the visitors will be able to handle the speed and physical pressure the Boks will bring. I’m hopeful that the combinations Heyneke selects will spark naturally and we’ll see the team playing an entertaining brand of rugby.
I believe this Test represents a good opportunity for Jan Serfontein to earn his debut. The Bulls inside centre is a very talented player and along with the other youngsters in the side has a very bright future in the game.
Making your Test debut is very special and a day that you never forget. My maiden Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld went by in the flash of an eye.
The Boks will be highly motivated for their first Test fixture of year and will excited to kick-off their season in front of a capacity crowd in Durban.
I feel the team are in a good frame of mind this week and are determined to produce a strong performance come Saturday.
If the Boks can dominate the set-phases, keep possession and build pressure, I believe we have enough potency in our backline to score tries. I’m backing the Boks to win by at least 10 points.Jaco Taute earned his Springbok debut in 2012 and has played four Tests for his country. Follow him on Twitter @JacoTaute
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