Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Fourie du Preez has come out in defence of Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux after they received a barrage of criticism for their play at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
According to the supersport.com website, Du Preez backed Le Roux to have an exceptional game in Saturday's World Cup final against England and said he believed De Klerk was bearing the brunt of criticism for conforming to the team's game plan, which had worked and brought them to the final.
"There is a lot of unnecessary criticism of Faf. It is 100 percent a decision between Rassie (Erasmus) and the tactical decision-makers. I think there was once or twice where he gave the ball to Handre (Pollard) and we had a bad tactical kick, and I think that is because he is starting to feel the pressure of everyone saying he box kicks the whole time," Du Preez said.
"But that is what Rassie wants and the game plan that Rassie has given him. What else should he do in that situation? If the flyhalf or backline calls for a box kick, what does he do? He can clean out quickly but then the rest of the guys are nowhere.
"I feel a bit sorry for Faf for the criticism that he is getting. But I don't think it worries Rassie at the moment or the other players. We are in the World Cup final, despite the criticism, despite how bad people say Willie is and despite the box kicking. And we have a 50-51 per cent chance of winning this weekend."
Du Preez said while it may not be pretty, the Bok kicking game was effective, and wished the Springbok supporters could understand the reasoning behind it.
While most teams in the world kick a lot, Bok supporters tend to not understand the tactics behind it.
"All nines in the world box kick. But South Africans don't always see that, they don't see that England box kick or New Zealand box kick. We think they only play running rugby. Everyone does it, but they do have one or two other variations which we don't currently have. And hopefully Rassie brings those in this weekend," he added.
“You will see the box kicks are always between the 22m area and halfway, because the ruck is outside the 22 and you can't kick out. You only other option is to kick it long, and then you are going to tackle. Your aim is to kick it as close to the sideline as you can and the first prize is to win the ball back, or second prize to put the player under pressure and force him into a corner, and from there he can't do much. So that is the reason why the whole world does it, but sometimes we as South Africans don't understand that.
"The big thing is that it must be a good box kick. If you kick a bad one you place yourself under pressure but it is the same with a bad long kick. The execution must be better and I think Faf's execution was a lot better this past weekend and it is one of the reasons why we won."
Du Preez believes Le Roux will show his class in the final.
“I think it is the right call to start Le Roux even though some people might not want him to play. For four years I heard how bad Damian (De Allende) is, and at the moment Damian is our best backline player at this World Cup.
"Willie had an unbelievable World Cup four years ago, and played excellently under pressure from New Zealand. My money is on him having a good game.
"I don't think we have an alternative and to me Frans Steyn isn't an alternative to start the game. He covers the bench very well and that is why we can go with a six-two bench. Like the rest of South Africa I hope he has a great game, and I've got a good feeling he will come through for the Boks."