Du Plessis looks for the fast lane

2015-10-20 07:04
Jannie du Plessis (Gallo Image)

Guildford - Jannie du Plessis reckons South Africa must aim for the final straight when they race arch-rivals New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals this weekend rather than worry about a crash.

Du Plessis said psychology will be key to South Africa avoiding becoming a wreck for the second time at this World Cup.

The Springbok prop told how sports psychologists had explained to the squad about their time trying to talk Indycar drivers out of deadly tactics.

"They lose control and they think 'don't go into the wall, don't go into the wall, don't go into the wall', and then they drive into the wall and they die," he said on Monday.

"What they said is that when you are in a pressure situation you should think about where you want to go and not where you do not want to go.

"If you lose control you don't want to focus on the wall, but rather look for the lane where you want your car to end up and the fatalities are much less after that," added the 32-year-old veteran of 68 Tests.

"Making mistakes against a team like New Zealand, they can probably score five tries in 10 minutes," said du Plessis.

"If you focus on not making mistakes, unfortunately it's human nature if you say 'don't drop the ball', then you drop the ball," he added.

The All Blacks, reigning world champions, crushed France 62-13 in a lopsided quarter-final in Cardiff last weekend. By contrast, the Springboks had to work far harder to see off Wales 23-19 at Twickenham.

Du Plessis, brother of South Africa hooker Bismarck, highlighted New Zealand's killer instinct.

"When they stuck the knife in, they didn't pull it out, they turned it and made the French feel the full wrath of their performance."

For much of rugby union history, New Zealand and South Africa have been the sport's two pre-eminent nations.

"Playing for the Springboks, there is an incredible heritage and incredible history but sometimes that history can be like a millstone around your neck because you play with added pressure.

"Growing up, it felt surreal that I would even imagine that I could play against the All Blacks.

"Having done that, it is a massive privilege and a great pleasure but it would be even better if we can beat them."

New Zealand have rarely been tested this World Cup whereas fellow double world champions South Africa suffered the shock of a 34-32 loss to outsiders Japan in their pool opener -- the greatest upset in World Cup history.

"I've thought a lot about the Japan game," said du Plessis.

"A friend of mine showed me a band called The Melvins that used two drummers to lay a good foundation.

"If you look at them, you only have to go back to what works for you and your basic thing that keeps the team together and lays a good foundation.

"The band is heavy metal -- not that I am into that sort of music...It's the type of music that will scare your kids."

Du Plessis said he was looking forward to returning to Twickenham this Saturday.

England's 'fortress' proved anything but for them as defeats there by Wales and Australia saw the Red Rose team become the first World Cup hosts to fail to get through to the knockout phase.

But du Plessis said: "I think Twickenham is a fortress for rugby. To play a game at Twickenham, whether you are English or not, is already an incredible privilege.

"I think both teams will probably take a lot of energy from the fact they can play in a stadium as rich in history, as pivotal in rugby, as Twickenham."

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