Boks target breakdown battle v Wales

2015-10-14 22:04
Francois Louw (Gallo)

Bagshot - With South Africa convinced they will face an "arm wrestle" against Wales in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final at Twickenham on Saturday, the pressure will be on the likes of loose forward Francois Louw to tip the balance in their favour.

The Springboks have put huge emphasis on their play at the breakdown during the tenure of coach Heyneke Meyer, going so far as to bring in a specialist in that facet of the game, Scotsman Richie Gray.

That was all for building towards the knockout stages of the World Cup, where games can be won or lost on penalty kicks that emanate from the breakdown.

Flank Louw is under no illusions about the task his side face against a Wales team who are equally proficient when the ball is on the floor.

"They are efficient in that area, playing with two open sides; both will have goes at the ball to try to influence the game at the breakdown, defensively and in attack," Louw told reporters on Wednesday.

"Our emphasis has always been to focus on that area and to get quick ball when we are attacking, to get our cleaners in early and not give their ball-poachers half a chance to get in there."

Springboks loose forward Schalk Burger said on Tuesday that he rates Wales captain Sam Warburton in the same league as New Zealander Richie McCaw at the breakdown.

"The way Wales defend coming off the line, they go for chop-tackling and that gives them an opportunity to get on the ball and steal ball," Burger said.

"If we want to have the same momentum in attack, we will need to look after him (Warburton) with a big emphasis on getting over the gain line."

Louw agrees and says the Boks have been pleased with their breakdown play at the World Cup so far.

"Our approach has been pretty consistent throughout this tournament; we want to dictate the tempo of the game, which requires our guys to get in there early," he said.

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