Jannie's impact felt in defence
Bloemfontein – Most props want to scrum their way to glory, but Springbok tighthead Jannie du Plessis has made an impact with his performances on defence this year.
Du Plessis will start his sixth Test of the year in the Boks’ Tri-Nations match against Australia and will not be intimidated by the prospect of facing the Wallabies’ quick backs.
While the tighthead prop has featured in 19 Tests since making his debut, he has not had much game time. Last year
John Smit kept him out of the starting line-up at tighthead prop and previously he was stuck behind CJ van der Linde and BJ Botha.
Du Plessis, Smit and Gurthrö Steenkamp are a tight unit and want to build on a good scrumming performance against the Aussies in Pretoria.
Du Plessis believes his improved defence definitely has something to do with his improvement.
“Most rugby players know what their strengths and weaknesses are. I don’t think defence was one of my strengths. I went to speak to the Sharks’ biokineticist and fitness coaches about the areas I wanted to work on and defence was one of them,” he said.
“You can’t pick someone if you doubt his defensive ability because you defend for half the game. It’s something I have focused on.
“It’s nice to be able to feel comfortable in the defensive line. When those quick backs run at you it’s not that scary anymore.”
The prop believes he has benefited from a longer pre-season thanks to the hand injury that he suffered on the European tour in 2009, while more game time at the Sharks in the Super 14 has also helped.
While the Boks leaked tries against the Aussies at Loftus Versfeld, Du Plessis does not believe there is anything wrong with their tackling.
“Some of the Wallabies’ tries was down to individual brilliance. The try that they scored from their own 22m area came after Kurtley Beale had sidestepped four players. Not one of those guys missed him deliberately,” said Du Plessis.
“We also have players like Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana that can do that.”
He added that the team had defended well later in the game.
Du Plessis is also satisfied with the Boks’ scrumming, especially after Wallaby loosehead prop Benn Robinson had given them a hard time in 2009.
He believes Robinson is a gifted player, but that he did not experience too many problems with him.
“We were solid most of the time in Pretoria. I never felt under pressure in the scrums and think we did well.”