Smal: Irish rule out 'revenge'
Cape Town – Some Irish players will be keen to make amends for the British and Irish Lions’ series defeat in South Africa when they take on the Springboks in Dublin on 28 November, but it will not be a “revenge” match.
That is the view of Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal, who was also one of South Africa’s assistant coaches when they won the World Cup in 2007. Since then he has helped Ireland win the Six Nations.
Smal will help coach Ireland against the country of his birth for the first time later this month.
“When you have experienced a tour like that (the Lions), there are things you want to put right, but I don’t think the players will lose their focus,” said Smal.
“Ireland will prepare as well as possible. It’s not about revenge, but to ensure that Irish rugby remains strong. We want to concentrate on playing better rugby than last season.”
Smal said the next step for Ireland is to win regularly against teams from the Southern Hemisphere.
He admits it will feel strange to coach against South Africa.
“It would have been different had I not been involved with the Boks before. I have had very special experiences with both teams – the World Cup win with South Africa and Six Nations triumph with Ireland.
“I am still a passionate South African and will remain one.”
Smal has taken note of South Africa’s exceptional form this year and believes criticism of the Springboks is without foundation.
“Some critics say that South Africa do not play attractive rugby, but Tests are there to be won,” he said.
“You play to the strengths of your players. South Africa have a simple style, but execute it very well.”
Smal added that it is difficult to predict what South Africa can expect in their Test against France.
“France are going through a period of growth, but their coach has been around for a while now and is under pressure to deliver,” he said.