Boks are changing: McGeechan

2014-10-28 11:48
Ian McGeechan (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks' recent evolution from a kicking strategy to a more ball-in-hand approach has been noted in the Northern Hemisphere.

Heyneke Meyer's Springboks are set to play four Tests there next month, starting with a clash against Ireland in Dublin on November 8. After that, they will face England (London, November 15), Italy (Padova, November 22) and Wales (Cardiff, November 29) in consecutive weeks.

The Boks have shown more attacking intent in recent times after been criticised for playing a one-dimensional, kicking game.

The change in strategy has caught the eye for former British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan.

Ian McGeechan, via a column on The Telegraph's website, analysed the three Southern Hemisphere giants - New Zealand, South Africa and Australia - ahead of their of their respective year-end European tours.

In his analyses, McGeechan said the emergence of Handre Pollard at flyhalf has had a lot to do with the Boks' new style of play.

He wrote: "South Africa are changing. They now move the ball a lot more. They still have the power up front but it is a more fluid game that they are trying to play, with a lot more off-loading. Once they are on the front foot, this allows them to move their target areas rather than just power down one channel.

"That is due in no small part to the emergence of young flyhalf Handre Pollard, who looks a fine player to me. They are definitely looking to play at a higher tempo. But it is a question of whether they can maintain that over 80 minutes. And I think they will try to keep doing that over here this autumn, keep trying to extend the limits of their game. They proved against New Zealand that it is a game of real menace and has looked very impressive in the first 50 minutes of games.

"Heyneke Meyer is a good coach and he is trying to get a consistency and accuracy into what they do. In the past if a South African could not get across the gain line, they made errors and looked impotent, because they tried to force the plays. Now they are more relaxed on the ball, and more patient.

"But having said all that, the reality remains that playing South Africa is still the most physical match of rugby you will ever play.

"You simply have to ensure that you are managing that physicality first before you think of doing anything else against them."

McGeechan said England, Ireland and Wales "will have to play mightily well" to beat the Springboks and said set-piece and defensive work would be key proponents if the home nations want to stand any chance of claiming a Springbok scalp.

The Springbok squad for the Outgoing Tour 2014:

Forwards (20): Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth, Lodewyk de Jager, Jaco Kriel, Victor Matfield, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Julian Redelinghuys, Gurthro Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley

Backs (16): Damian de Allende, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Willie le Roux, Seabelo Senatla, Jan Serfontein, Morne Steyn, Jean de Villiers (captain)

CLICK HERE to read Ian McGeechan's full column on The Telegraph's website.

Read more on:    springboks  |  ian mcgeechan  |  rugby

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