'Old' Bok tactics still work
Johannesburg - The conservative tactics that landed the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Tri-Nations for the Springboks would still be effective at this year's global showcase in New Zealand, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez has told Reuters.
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"In 2009, it was more about your kicking game and your defence. There's more of a contest now, especially on the ground, but they've cut the advantage for the attacking side a bit from last year," the 2007 World Cup winner said.
"We need to find the balance in our game, we've focused a bit more on attack and we're always trying to improve.
"It's not as if all our plans have changed since 2009, however our kicking has not been up to scratch, we need a lot more accuracy there".
Du Preez's performance in steering South Africa to the World Cup title in France four years ago showcased his blend of skill, vision and rugby nous, and even the Springboks' greatest foes, New Zealand and Australia, have acknowledged his talent.
"In my opinion, is probably the best halfback I have seen play," said Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia, who is nipping at the South African's heels as the pre-eminent player in the position.
"He's someone I've always tried to learn things off and tried to model some of my game on."
"He makes a massive difference to their side. He controls the game, the tempo of the game and he adds a lot to their group."
Such was the influence of the 29-year-old, his absence in 2010 was sorely missed as he spent virtually the entire year out recovering from a shoulder injury.
Du Preez returned to test action against Australia in Durban on Aug. 13 and was less than comfortable with the extreme pressure placed on his shoulders to right the Springbok ship.
"To heap that sort of expectation on me is unfair. I want to concentrate on my form and getting back into international rugby," the Bulls player said.
"Hopefully I can help the team perform a little better, but it won't be because I am back ... it will be because every one of the players wants the team to be on top again," he said.
Du Preez made a satisfactory return against the Wallabies, but said there was still a way to go before reaching the top-class form he showed from 2007 to 2009.
"I'm just happy to be back, it was a long layoff. It went pretty well, I was tired at the end, but I knew I would be a bit rusty."
Du Preez was part of the controversial camp attended by 21 frontline Springboks during their away leg of the Tri-Nations, and he said the technical and defensive advice offered by Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber should bear fruit at the World Cup.
"The rehab camp was very crucial," he added of the input from the two specialist consultants.
"It was different before the 2007 World Cup because we had two or three months to prepare. This time we had two weeks before the Tri-Nations and one week after.
"So it was important to get our planning right and we got what we wanted out of the camp. We hope to see the benefits at the World Cup."