Mitchell: Kick less but kick smart

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ken Bor­land

For­mer New Zealand coach John Mitchell (left), now the di­rec­tor of rugby at the Bulls, says the Spring­boks needed to kick less but smarter if they are to beat the All Blacks in their Rugby Cham­pi­onship clash at the North Har­bour Sta­dium to­day.

The Spring­boks re­mained un­beaten this year with a 23-23 draw against Aus­tralia in Perth last week­end, but Mitchell said it was nev­er­the­less an unim­pres­sive dis­play and the South Africans needed to boost their per­for­mance if they are to chal­lenge the No 1-ranked All Blacks.

“I think we’ve seen a fairly av­er­age Rugby Cham­pi­onship thus far with sides in tran­si­tion two years out from the World Cup, I wouldn’t say the rugby in Perth was that ex­cit­ing. The Spring­boks have to be care­ful about kick­ing away pos­ses­sion so much. Clearly it’s Bren­dan Venter’s exit tac­tic.

“But New Zealand will counter far more than Aus­tralia did and if the Spring­boks over-kick through pres­sure again, then the All Blacks will counter-at­tack. It’s been a men­tally and phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing year for the All Blacks, but they are all about leav­ing a legacy and they won’t want to let their pre­de­ces­sors down in terms of per­for­mance.

“Who­ever plays for them, it is a col­lec­tive that binds them to­gether.

“They fully un­der­stand the phys­i­cal­ity of the Spring­boks and how much they have im­proved this year,” Mitchell said.

The 53-year-old Mitchell, who coached New Zealand to third place in the 2003 World Cup, warned, how­ever, that the All Blacks are vul­ner­a­ble to wellplaced, con­testable kicks be­cause their back three are mostly small.

“El­ton Jan­tjies is still look­ing a bit sti­fled by the Spring­bok exit plan, but I hope they kick more from scrumhalf on Satur­day, more con­testable kicks rather than the fly­half kick­ing deep down­field and feed­ing the All Blacks.

“Their full­back Damian McKen­zie is brave but tiny, and Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der isn’t tall ei­ther. Israel Dagg, Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane are all taller play­ers who were used against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons, so tac­ti­cally there is an op­por­tu­nity to be smart for the Spring­boks,” Mitchell said.

I think we’ve seen a fairly av­er­age Rugby Cham­pi­onship thus far with sides in tran­si­tion.

John Mitchell Blue Bulls Di­rec­tor of Rugby

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