Boks aim for 'total rugby'
Auckland - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has committed himself to playing "total rugby" this weekend in his team’s Rugby Championship showdown with New Zealand in Auckland.
The supersport.com website reports that Meyer, who is often castigated for being too conservative, despite many statistics showing the opposite, said at the team announcement Wednesday that he truly believed that if you want to beat the All Blacks, then you need to play complete rugby.
The Boks have already been complimented by the All Blacks this week, with Dan Carter calling this "the most expansive Bok team" he has seen thus far, and while there are still South Africans back home who cling to the cliché that the team is conservative, 31 tries in their last six matches tells a very different story.
Meyer called the compliment "flattering" but added that his teams always do score tries.
And the stats also back him up.
In 2005 and 2006 when the Bulls made the semifinals they were third and second only to the table-topping Crusaders.
In 2007 they scored 45 tries, two less than the Crusaders as well.
In last year’s Rugby Championship, the Boks scored 12 tries – five more than Argentina and Australia, but also 10 less than the All Blacks.
This year it has been a different story, with the Boks picking up two bonus points in their three games thus far, and scoring 14 tries to the All Blacks 11.
Still, Meyer knows it’s a bigger challenge on Saturday, and the compliment that the All Blacks and New Zealand media have noticed the change, only means they will be better prepared for the Boks this weekend.
"It’s flattering coming from them, and its something we want to work on.
"But Test match rugby is about taking your opportunities and absorbing the pressure," Meyer said.
"I won’t say just there was a move to play expansively in the Rugby Championship.
"When we started there was a way we wanted to play and obviously you have to score tries if you want to win.
"The strange thing is, wherever I’ve coached, it has always been the same game plan.
"Sooner or later you start to score tries if the guys get together and start to take the opportunities they are presented with.
"It’s all about pressure and how you handle it.
"We want to score tries on Saturday, but realise it will be tough.
"We want to play a total game, we’ve got a really balanced side at the moment and a lot of our backs are really exciting players.
"I’m happy we are doing well, but we need to take it game for game, and this year we’ve scored a lot of tries, so there is continuity – and there isn’t the pressure from not scoring tries like the previous year where we were under pressure from the word go.
"But it doesn’t always work.
"The All Blacks are probably the most attacking side, but they scored tries against Australia away, but at home only scored two tries.
"We scored eight tries against Argentina one week and the next one."
The Bok coach said the team truly wanted to play expansive rugby.
"We want to be expansive.
"I truly believe if you play one-dimensionally against the All Blacks they are going to work you out.
"We want to spread the ball and score tries and that is what people want to watch."
But before Bok fans start dancing in joy, they need to remember the Bok coach is a firm believer that the basics need to be done first, and that decision-making at the right time, is the key to when to run the ball.