Coet­zee’s Boks up for phys­i­cal Eng­land clash

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

South Africa’s Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has promised the Spring­boks will rel­ish the “phys­i­cal bat­tle” when they face an Eng­land side coached by his former col­league Ed­die Jones at Twick­en­ham on Satur­day.

The Spring­boks have lost five of their last nine Tests, in­clud­ing last month’s record 57-15 de­feat by world cham­pi­ons New Zealand in Dur­ban.

That prompted calls for Spring­bok coach Coet­zee’s res­ig­na­tion, with some crit­ics ar­gu­ing South Africa had moved too far away from their tra­di­tional power game in try­ing to play a more ex­pan­sive style of rugby that did not suit their play­ers. The pres­sure on Coet­zee in­creased as South Africa, al­beit with­out sev­eral first-choice picks, started their tour of Europe with a 31-31 draw against the scratch Bar­bar­ians at Wem­b­ley on Satur­day, where only two tries in the clos­ing min­utes pre­vented de­feat.

Eng­land, by con­trast, have won all nine of their Tests since Jones, like Coet­zee ap­pointed af­ter the World Cup, took charge. “As Ed­die says, you’ve got to match South Africa’s phys­i­cal­ity, Coet­zee told re­porters at South Africa’s Lon­don ho­tel on Mon­day. “It will be a phys­i­cal bat­tle, I can guar­an­tee you that,” added Coet­zee, who worked along­side Jones when they were both mem­bers of the South Africa back­room staff un­der then coach Jake White that helped the Spring­boks win the 2007 World Cup.

“Rugby’s about phys­i­cal dom­i­nance,” ex­plained Coet­zee. “I feel com­fort­able with the words ‘phys­i­cal dom­i­nance’. “It’s about com­ing out on top at scrum-time and maul­ing. Eng­land maul a lot as well. “We’re look­ing for more vari­a­tion at line-out time but the maul has al­ways been a strength of ours. “In terms of South African rugby, we want to find that bal­ance and not let go of what made us a pow­er­house be­fore. We’d like to keep that and build on that.”

‘BEAT US UP’

It’s a view that res­onates with Eng­land scrumhalf Ben Youngs, whose per­sonal Test record against the Spring­boks is played five, lost five.

“Ev­ery­one knows the big­gest thing they bring is phys­i­cal­ity,” said Youngs at Eng­land’s Bagshot train­ing base south­west of Lon­don on Mon­day.

“I think they’ll go back to tra­di­tion and try to beat us up to a de­gree. “I’ve never come off the field feel­ing there has been a mas­sive gap, just that we haven’t been able to match them phys­i­cally.” This sea­son has seen Youngs play­ing along­side Spring­bok wing JP Pi­etersen at Le­ices­ter, not that he has de­rived much in­sight into South Africa’s play as a re­sult.

“I sit next to JP at train­ing and he hasn’t given any­thing away,” said Youngs. Pi­etersen too be­lieves club knowl­edge will count for lit­tle at Twick­en­ham. “I’ve only been in Eng­land for four months,” he said while seated along­side Coet­zee.

“The way my club plays is com­pletely dif­fer­ent

Al­lis­ter Coet­zee

to the way Eng­land plays. We have more New Zealand flair but as the coach says it’s go­ing to be all about set-piece (on Satur­day).”

Eng­land have not beaten South Africa since 2006 — a run span­ning 11 wins and a draw. “I’m sure that with their his­tory of win­ning (against Eng­land) since 2006, they’ll be con­fi­dent of what they’re about,” said Youngs.

But Coet­zee said his­tory counted for lit­tle com­pared to Eng­land’s re­cent form un­der Aus­tralian boss Jones. “We’re def­i­nitely un­der­dogs in this case. We’re play­ing against the sec­ond best team in the world at this point in time,” said Coet­zee.

“They are on a nine-game win­ning streak, they went down to Aus­tralia and won all three Tests so there’s a lot of con­fi­dence in the English side.” Eng­land will be with­out their in­jured first-choice sec­ond row duo Maro Itoje and George Kruis on Satur­day but Coet­zee said: “It’s a strong side, ir­re­spec­tive of the so-called ‘lock cri­sis’ they pro­fess to have. “They have lost two qual­ity locks but then you get Joe Launch­bury back. He’s a sea­soned cam­paigner. “There are hardly any weak­nesses if you look at the way they’re go­ing to play.” — AFP

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