Rassie: Aerial defence Boks' biggest problem

2018-03-03 14:22
Rassie Erasmus (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - New Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes the weak point in the national set-up right isn't systems or game plan - its a lack of aerial skills.

Erasmus took over the reins on Thursday and was immediately put on the spot when he was asked what the biggest problem currently in South African rugby is.

READ: Boks face huge task, admits new coach Erasmus

And surprisingly, with many who would have easily pointed to something else, Erasmus looked differently at the matter, which may foretell how he will approach other parts of the job.

It's easy to look for blame when talking about the Boks, but Erasmus knows all too well how opposition teams look to target weak spots in a side, and he feels that over the last season they have found a weak spot that is easily exploited.

This doesn't bode well for the current back three of the Boks - with Andries Coetzee, Courtnal Skosan and a combination of Raymond Rhule, Dillyn Lleyds and others doing duty in the back three - where the Boks have been targeted over time.

It also serves as a wake-up call to those in Super Rugby that Erasmus will be looking to this area as one of the key points before he selects his first squad, and players who obviously excel as part of their skill set will be favoured.

"Alignment in systems is important. When you say attack or defence or breakdown it is a well-known fact around the world that we stuggle aerially, all teams will come for us in the air now," Erasmus told the supersport.com website.

"It is a fact that everybody knew Ireland would play us that way in that specific game and you can't fix that in the week leading up to the Ireland Test match.

"If we don't have alignment in the way we see things, the way we practice things. That is not to say the franchises must coach the way we coach."

Erasmus hinted that franchise systems that work would be part of the Bok make-up and we're unlikely to see a situation where - as in Elton Jantjies case, although he didn't mention him by name - the Boks expect a player to play a game plan that he is uncomfortable with.

"Perhaps we must adapt more to the franchise and say 'ok, if you're going to have that nine and 10, they are going to play for you, perhaps you need to adapt a bit more of that specific franchise style that they are playing. That is the fact-finding mission if I can say it that way. Also, the IP (intellectual property) that we are trying to gather from the provinces, and we must get to the PRO14 and the other provinces as well.

"But almost something involving those coaches. The first games we have and we'll get to detail later, but we might have a selection issue, a planning or training session and see that a player is not doing well but the coach can tell us what is wrong with him because he has been working with him for the last four, five, six months.

"If I say something specific that stands out I would say the aerial stuff currently. Teams are just getting too streetsmart for us. It's not the defensive system. It’s the aerial stuff."

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Read more on:    springboks  |  rassie erasmus  |  rugby


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