Con­fi­dence high as Boks aerial skills have im­proved

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AS­SIS­TANT coach Mzwandile Stick says the Spring­boks have taken a gi­ant leap for­ward in the once prob­lem­atic area of con­test­ing for the high ball.

The Boks’ aerial skills had been lack­ing un­der the coach­ing of Al­lis­ter Coetzee and Heyneke Meyer, but in 2018 they have im­proved dra­mat­i­cally, with the likes of rookie wings S’bu Nkosi, Aphiwe Dyan­tyi and Maka­zole Mapimpi all win­ning their fair share of con­testable kicks.

Dom­i­nated

Also, Wil­lie le Roux has dom­i­nated the aerial bat­tle against some of the best ex­po­nents of the high ball, while Damian Willemse, Ch­es­lin Kolbe and Han­dré Pol­lard have all shown will­ing­ness to get up in the air, some­thing that wasn’t al­ways the case in the past.

Against Eng­land at Twick­en­ham last Satur­day, the Bok wingers – Nkosi and Dyan­tyi – out-jumped their op­po­nents on more than one oc­ca­sion, some­thing Stick said was the re­sult of plenty of work put in by the play­ers this year.

“We’re for­tu­nate to have so much tal­ent in the out­side backs, guys like Aphiwe and S’bu. We’re in a good space with all this po­ten­tial in the squad,” said Stick in Paris yes­ter­day.

“This sea­son was al­ways go­ing to be a chal­lenge to get the aerial skills right, and more so know­ing we would be com­ing to north­ern con­di­tions, where there is more kick­ing; it was a big work on.

“But the guys worked very hard, and it’s get­ting bet­ter all the time. Some years back New Zealand dom­i­nated, and Eng­land have also al­ways been good (in the air), but we’re catch­ing up.

“See­ing the con­fi­dence in our play­ers (to get up there) is good news for us; we’re get­ting there, we just need to start dom­i­nat­ing now.”

Pic­ture: REUTERS/Toby Melville

South Africa’s Duane Ver­meulen claims the high ball against Eng­land’s Jonny May.

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