Rugby Championship

Monty: No 50-50 kicks, Boks!

2013-10-04 07:45
Percy Montgomery (Gallo)
Cape Town – The Springboks will have to be extra careful to protect their possession when they attempt to earn the required full house of five log points without reply in the Castle Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Johannesburg on Saturday.

GALLERY: 5 previous games between Boks, NZ at Ellis Park

So says Percy Montgomery, all-time record points scorer for the Boks with 893 points and a World Cup and two-time Tri-Nations title winner during his illustrious 102-cap career.

The former fullback, now 39, told Sport24 this week that he felt South Africa would have to be accurate in the execution of any tactical kicking against the world champions.

“We won’t be able to afford the risk of kicking any 50-50 balls, where possession could just transfer to them – the All Blacks are deadly on turnover attack.”

At the same time, Montgomery says the Boks’ kicking game will remain an important device in their quest to complete what he called “a huge ask for the boys” in trying to not simply triumph but also do enough to steal the title at Ellis Park.

“Our nine and 10 (Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn) respectively will be important in having their kicking on song; as much as possible we must hold our possession.

“I also won’t have any problem if (Steyn) bangs over some penalties in the early part of the match to keep the scoreboard ticking if we can and so build pressure on the New Zealanders – it’s first about just constructing a win, before you can think about (bonus point matters).”

But Montgomery, who will travel to the Highveld to be at the sold-out stadium, also said captain Jean de Villiers would have to have his wits about him for “the important decisions on the day”, because another Bok strength was their lineout drive meaning that some kicks should be aimed for the corners.

“We have the players to play an attacking brand of rugby and the pace out wide to make a go of (the challenge).”

Montgomery was wearing his beloved No 15 jersey the last time the Boks played these foes at Ellis Park, in the 2004 Tri-Nations when they won 40-26 and – perhaps in a good omen – achieved the five-nil outcome in log points also required on Saturday.

 The backdrop was not dissimilar because the game also came after Bok defeat in the away clash that year: they had been beaten 23-21 in Christchurch although out-scored the All Blacks by three tries to one.

“We could have won away but a couple of key errors nailed us,” he recalls. “The feeling afterwards, though, was ‘these guys can be taken’ (back home).

“We were a relatively new squad wanting to start taking some steps toward the next World Cup (which South Africa won in 2007), so winning that Ellis Park game in the manner we did was the kind of statement we wanted.

“Any Test against the All Blacks is an absolutely immense game; they are seldom anything but strong in all departments and are still the team we most respect of all rugby countries.”

Montgomery ended that victorious 2004 Tri-Nations, under the leadership of now-Sharks CEO John Smit, as leading tournament points scorer with 45, seven ahead of a rookie Dan Carter (38).

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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