Johannesburg - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee expects a massive physical confrontation from the French as the two sides gear up for their Incoming Tours series next month over three Tests.
According to the SuperSport website, Coetzee noted that the French were likely to bring a very physical side to South Africa, and that the Boks would need to be ready to counter this, especially in the setpieces and breakdown, while out wide their selection is likely to go for macro wings as well, meaning the team that will line up at Loftus Versfeld for the first Test is likely to be one of the biggest to ever visit these shores.
But Coetzee believes if the Boks get their team culture right, and keep things simple, they will be able to counter whatever the French throw at them, both literally and figuratively.
“The French are one of the most improved international sides. We saw that in the Six Nations this year, they were unlucky to lose against England and I think if they won that one it would have been a different ball game altogether,” Coetzee said.
“They have a lot of threats all around the park. They are a big, physical side. That suits us as South Africans, and our setpiece is a very important thing.
“They pride themselves on their scrummaging as much as we do. They have big physical players – if you look at their loose forward combination. We know exactly what they bring – big wingers from the Islands and they are threats but we will be prepared. What we are coming and will be throwing out there – we will have a better culture.”
Coetzee promised a “better team culture” than last year where the Boks lost eight of their 12 Tests and believed this would be crucial in the test series ahead.
“We will have a much better team culture. We’re going to Plettenberg Bay next week, our captain has been announced and I’ve had great chats with the overseas players. Steven Kitshoff is coming back permanently so it is just Hougaard, Duane and Frans Steyn – and that is the experience we need to bring back to compliment the youth and form players we have.
“We start with that. We will have a good team culture, we will have a good plan – making sure that our setpiece is highly competitive. A simple plan.
“I’ve learnt from last year that we will keep things as simple as possible and have massive clarity in and around the team. Our attacking ability, what we see – the mindset we see in franchise rugby – will be there but there will be a greater balance in the way we want to play. Yes there is still a lot of work to be done, but I am happy where we are at the moment this time around.”
Coetzee added that there may only be three overseas players, but their value could not be underestimated. Still, with their commitments in Europe often meaning they could only be available a week before the test, preference would be given to players who could attend the team’s training camp in Plettenberg Bay next week.
“It is quite tough, if you look where Duane is, he is playing a semifinal against La Rochelle this weekend. They finish their final on the 4th of June. We have Steven Kitshoff in the country. Frans Steyn is finished with Montepellier so he could be back early and according to Regulation 9 a player like Francois Hougaard can only join us a week before the Test.
“Until I have certainty about who is here, I will look at the combinations then at what the combinations will be for the first Test. At this point in time, it would be great for us to look at our preparation, that it comes first and that we select from players who can be at the whole of the camp. Some of the other players could come off the bench.”
The Boks face the French in the first test on June 10 in Pretoria.
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