Mitchell: Kick less but kick smart
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