'Clinical' Boks to avoid Italy ignominy - Strauss

2016-11-18 17:51
Adriaan Strauss (Gallo)

Florence - Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss believes only a clinical performance with improvement in all areas of the field can help South Africa avoid the ignominy of an historic defeat to Italy.

South Africa face Italy in Florence looking to make amends after morale-crushing defeats to New Zealand (57-15) and England (37-21) made it five test losses in their last six outings.

Defeat to England at Twickenham last week was the Boks' first in a decade and left many fans fearing a first defeat to Italy could come less than a year after an historic defeat to Japan in the 2015 World Cup.

A poll on the South African sports website sport24.co.za on Friday suggested 44% of fans believed the Boks would suffer "some anxious moments, but win by 10 (points) or less".

Forty-three percent predict it will be "Japan all over again! Italy will beat the Boks."

Strauss, who will earn his 65th cap at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, predicts a "physical battle" against Conor O'Shea's new-look Azzurri, who suffered a 68-10 loss to the All Blacks last week in Rome.

But he said: "It's been a season of frustration. We've been working hard and hopefully it will come together. I would like to have a very successful day.

"Hopefully we can take a step closer to becoming the team we want to be tomorrow. It will be a physical battle, but first and foremost we have to be clinical. We haven't done that for 80 minutes this season.

"Coach Allister (Coetzee) has said we had to take a step up in everything we do, which includes the training sessions.

"On match day our processes - lineouts, scrums, breakdown, finishing and defence all have to improve.

"Winning is massively important, and even though our focus is not on the end result in itself, we need a win."

A first win on their tour of the northern hemisphere would give embattled Coetzee some breathing space ahead of a tough, final test against Wales next week.

The 53-year-old has embraced the return of wizard wing Bryan Habana, who sat out injured against England, and will hand exciting loose forward Nizaam Carr his fourth cap at openside after Pieter-Steph du Toit was moved back to lock.

Those changes should at least appease angry Boks fans. Against England, Du Toit was twice sold dummies' by England scrum-half Ben Youngs that led to two of their tries.

Coetzee has underlined the need for "continuity" amid a season that has seen several younger players join the squad.

But although Strauss called for some leeway to be given, he said "too many mistakes" has made winning on Saturday crucial.

"We always knew this was going to be a tough year with a lot of youngsters in the system, but we have made some strides," he added.

"There is a lot of talent, but first we have two massive games to go and at the end of the year the planning for the future of Bok rugby can continue.

"We approach every week the same and we will give Italy the same amount of respect we gave England.

"We have made far too many mistakes - turning over ball and not executing when we have been in good positions.

"We have to be better and more clinical."

Read more on:    springboks  |  adriaan strauss  |  cricket

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Saturday, 12 November 2016
Germany v Uruguay, Volksbank Stadion 18:45
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
Canada v Usa, BMO Stadium 01:00
Saturday, 17 June 2017
Canada v Usa, BMO Stadium 01:00
Saturday, 18 November 2017
Belgium v Brazil, Petit Heysel 16:00
Saturday, 09 June 2018
New Zealand v France, Auckland 09:35
Australia v Ireland, Brisbane 12:05
South Africa v England, Johannesburg 17:05
Saturday, 16 June 2018
New Zealand v France, Wellington 09:35
Australia v Ireland, Melbourne 12:05
South Africa v England, Bloemfontein 17:05

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remains defiant, saying he won't resign despite a shambolic two years at the helm. Your thoughts?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.