Jake identifies Bok problems

2010-09-06 22:30
Jake White (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – Former Springbok coach Jake White believes the warning lights are flickering for Bok rugby.

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“The first problem, in capital letters, is defence,” White said on Monday.

“We started a rush defence in 2004 and were leaders in world rugby. Other countries followed us. South Africa conceded four tries in just 25 minutes in a critical Test on Saturday.

“I believe South African rugby should stick to what works for them, but also be innovative. I don’t see any subtle changes to our attacking play. It’s good to have experience, but you also have to come up with fresh ideas.”

White is also concerned that the players have too much power in the current Bok set-up. He believes that some players’ form have been negatively affected because their attention is not fully on rugby.

“There is a fine line between a player-driven system and player empowerment. The players are possibly in a comfort zone,” said White.

“I see players in TV ads and hear about business interests. As far as player empowerment is concerned, it’s good to give players an input into the game plan, but the coach still has to provide leadership and make difficult decisions.”

White believes the Boks are in danger of being reactive to the situation.

He believes the opportunity was there to be pro-active after last year’s Tri-Nations and blood new players on the European tour of 2009.

“Not a single difficult decision has been made in the last three years. It’s difficult to change because it forces you to make difficult decisions,” said White.

“The perception is there that South Africa did not adapt their way of playing this year, but the statistics show that they kicked a lot less than last year. We did adapt.

“New Zealand are kicking more, but are still scoring four tries per game. We have to stick to the principles that work for us because we don’t want to be New Zealand, Australia, Wales or Fiji.”

White is also concerned about the confidence that Australia’s young players will gain from Saturday’s win.

“Players like Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor will start believing that they can win against anybody if they beat John Smit and Victor Matfield in South Africa.”

White believes the Boks are still getting value from Smit’s captaincy.

“He will always add value and has a calming influence on the other players.”

People who compare the Boks’ struggles this year to that of 2006 are making a big mistake according to White.

“Australia are now in a similar position to where South Africa were back then. The Wallaby coach (Robbie Deans) is one game away from turning the entire situation in his favour,” said White.

“He understands how to build a team and the average age is quite low. There are young guys like Will Genia, David Pocock and the Faingaa brothers that won the junior world championship together.

“Deans also has to get players like Dan Vickerman, James Horwill, Ben Alexander, Wycliff Palu, Scott Higginbotham, Stirling Mortlock and Digby Ioane back. It’s similar to 2006 when we were without a number of key players.”

Read more on:    jake white  |  boks

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