Chiliboy Ralepelle

Simplicity key to success

2012-08-23 14:27
Sport24 columnist Chiliboy Ralepelle (File)
While I don’t think the performance was up to the standard we want to see from ourselves, earning the victory this past weekend against Argentina was the most important thing.

It was frustrating not to come away with the bonus point, but more importantly, we started our Rugby Championship campaign with a win and the team can certainly build from there.

It’s very different playing Argentina as opposed to Australia or New Zealand in that they are unpredictable. You never quite know what they are going to throw at you on a given day.

They do bring a fresh energy and I think it’s great that rugby can grow within the Southern hemisphere - with everyone competing at the highest level possible.

Our game plan was to keep them in their quarters, allow them to make the mistakes and then score the points from there. I felt that we left three to four tries out on the field last weekend. We need to come out this Saturday, maximise our opportunities and turn them into points.

Argentina play a very simple game. They pride themselves on their scrummaging, their rucking and mauling. That has traditionally been their strong point and has kept them in the top-tier of world rugby.

Having spent a few weeks with the side, you can definitely see Graham Henry’s influence. It was most noticeable with regard to their rucking, and when playing those pick-and-goes - in an attempt to created space for the outside backs.

As a side, Argentina feed off loose ball, and seem to enjoy a scrappy kind of game. If you make mistakes against them, they have quick enough backs to punish you. They may look to throw the ball around this weekend in an attempt to open up our forwards and stretch us around the park.

Our best strategy against them is to keep it as simple as possible. If it’s on out wide, we will take the opportunity and send the ball through the hands. But we will also need to kick into the corners, put them under pressure and play off the set-phases. Our primary goal is to pin them in their own half and let them make the mistakes.

Morne Steyn is a wise head and knows what he needs to do to execute his game. I was really happy to see him back to his old self and taking the initiative throughout the game.

While it’s never easy playing away from home, I feel the playing fields have been levelled as the Springboks and Pumas travelled on the same plane back to Argentina.

We need to focus on our game and what we want to achieve. We need to do everything properly with matches against the Wallabies and All Blacks still to come.

The injuries at hooker are unfortunate. Mine and Bismarck’s injuries were not too far apart.  However, I am feeling positive and have already started with my rehabilitation and recovery.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a greater cause. I am going to work towards the goals I have set myself, and taking the advice of the specialist, won’t rush back

I don’t think there is much to differentiate the hookers in South Africa. There is so much quality and versatility. The guys currently in the Boks mix have something special to add and it falls to those selected to take their opportunities and play their own game.

In terms of evolution, rugby is changing as it no just about big, fat guys smashing each other. The modern day player has to be the complete all-round athlete. As a hooker, it’s vital to offer versatility and be able to help out the loose forwards or outside backs. Your fitness levels also have to be right up there, to at times act as an extra loose forward.

I felt the Boks scrummed very well last weekend and can use the set-piece as a weapon going forward. However, in order to penetrate the line, we need quick ball.

I think it is very important that we get the away win on Saturday. I would love to give you guys the score, but that’s difficult to predict!

The Wallabies-All Blacks clash was an intense match last weekend. I felt the Aussies were unlucky to have come away without any points from the game.

In my view, it’s always a 50/50 call between those two sides. With the Bledisloe Cup also up for grabs, there is always plenty for them to play for.

Rugby is a funny game at times. You have to pitch up on the day, play your own game and stick to your structure. If one player is not on song, it can kill the whole team’s momentum.

Chiliboy Ralepelle has played 21 Tests for the Springboks. He remains the national side’s youngest-ever captain, having led against the World XV in 2006.

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