Johannesburg - Springbok hooker and vice-captain Bismarck du Plessis said the changing of the guard in the national side has meant more late night homework for him and his team-mates.
“Johan van Graan’s (Bok forwards coach) detail and video sessions are really well organised, and the difficult thing is you have to go and study in the evenings,” Du Plessis said in an interview on Wednesday.
“You have to learn new calls and new moves.”
The Sharks' front-rower said the players who worked under Peter de Villiers over the last four years had to come to grips with the changes in the game plan under Heyneke Meyer.
“Absolutely everything has changed and it is a new management team,” Du Plessis said.
“Everything is different to how Heyneke Meyer and Peter de Villiers wanted us to play. They are two different people.
“The one is an apple and the other a pear and you can’t compare the two.” The retirement of former Bok skipper and long-standing hooker John Smit from international rugby has also opened the door for Du Plessis to make the number two jersey his own.
Du Plessis had been regarded as the favoured hooker ahead of Smit for some time, with the latter’s leadership allowing him a place in the team for arguably too long.
The 28-year-old Du Plessis has also been given greater responsibility with Meyer handing him the vice-captaincy.
“It is a different challenge for us. I was always standing at the back of the row, now there are new guys standing at the back of the row,” he said.
“It is a little bit more responsibility on the guys who have played a few Tests.
“Looking at Marcell Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Coenie Oosthuizen, who played their first game [on Saturday against England]…we were very happy to give them their first win in their first game.”
The Springboks’ scrum dominated proceedings in the first Test last Saturday, with the all-Sharks front-row’s knowledge of each other also attributing to the strong performance.
“I think the more you play together, especially in the front-row, the better you get to know each other,” said Du Plessis.
“Take Beast [Mtawarira] for instance. I know when his wife is giving him problems and when he is not sleeping well... his baby was a bit ill last week.”
Of the Boks’ tight phases, the lineouts were not entirely up to scratch, with the side losing three of their 15 lineout balls.
Du Plessis, however, said the problems could not necessarily be pinned down to one issue but rather, one had to look at the whole process.
“A lineout is not just one thing; our calling has to be good, our jumpers have to be good, our support has to be good and our throws have to be good,” he said.
Du Plessis added that the side expected another war of attrition in the second Test in Johannesburg on Saturday, a challenge he would be up for on any given day.
“We know they will come back harder and stronger and we are looking forward to that challenge,” said Du Plessis.
“I just want to play rugby... it is a physical sport, you can’t hide away from that and I won’t shy away from that.
“I always say rugby is like war with a little bit of rules.”