Rugby Championship

Mitchell: Boks need new exits strategy

2017-09-18 22:15
John Mitchell (Gallo)

Cape Town - Blue Bulls executive of rugby John Mitchell believes a new exits strategy is needed if the Springboks are to bounce back from their humiliating loss to the All Blacks.

The Springboks conceded eight tries in a 57-0 drubbing in Albany on Saturday - the worst result in the team’s history.

Mitchell, who coached the All Blacks from 2001 to 2003, also said the Boks should try to run the ball more as their kicking game was not good enough to win important Tests.

“They’re too prescriptive on their exits,” Mitchell said at a press conference following his side’s 36-33 Currie Cup loss to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend.

Mitchell was seemingly referring to the strategy employed by Springbok assistant coach Brendan Venter, who is the team's defence and exits specialist.

“Kicking like they did might get one into a semi-final, but it won’t win you a championship. You can’t premeditate your exit and fall into the trap of giving the opposition the ball back. On Saturday it was one pass or an immediate kick.

“When you’re 31-0 down (the half-time score in Albany) you’ve got to chance your arm.

“But the Boks came out and started kicking again. You got to play some rugby (in that situation), and build pressure from anywhere on the field.”

The Springboks' back trio - fullback Andries Coetzee and wings Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule - were badly exposed at the weekend and critics have called for new faces to be introduced.

Players like Ruan Combrinck of the Lions and the Bulls' Warrick Gelant have impressed at Currie Cup level this season and could be called up to the Bok squad for the remaining Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and New Zealand in Bloemfontein and Cape Town respectively.

But Mitchell said although he thinks Gelant would shine at Test level, he's not sure whether the player would suit the Springboks' current game-plan and style.

“Warrick is a very special player," he added.

"He’s got the gift to create and can turn two-on-two situations into two-on-one situations. He’s also learning all the time to be a better defensive player and has a strong exit kick.

“I’m worried though he might be stifled somewhat in the current Bok exit plan because they don’t like to run the ball.

“So, the thing is, if you select him and don’t allow him to run the ball then his creativity is worthless.”


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