WE’LL ‘TRY’ HARDER – FRANCO

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREEN­AWAY

THE SPRING­BOKS will not only have to be more phys­i­cal in the sec­ond Test against France on Satur­day but more in­ven­tive on at­tack, not to men­tion less char­i­ta­ble in leav­ing try-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on the ta­ble.

That was the view yes­ter­day of at­tack coach Franco Smith, who says the Boks no longer have sur­prise on their side af­ter go­ing into the first Test last week as “some­thing of a dark horse”.

Smith added that first-choice Les Bleus play­ers who will aug­ment the side af­ter hav­ing not been con­sid­ered last week be­cause of the French Top 14 fi­nal, would add phys­i­cal­ity to the French ap­proach that in any case will step up a notch af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment of los­ing at Lof­tus Vers­feld.

“They will be a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal,” Smith said yes­ter­day. “I know their men­tal­ity well. The French play­ers re­spond pos­i­tively to de­feat. They do not like los­ing two matches in a row, and they will come at us at Kings Park. They will have done their home­work on us and will look to close us down out wide. They know that we are want­ing to play with width and we need to look at ways of coun­ter­ing how they plan to shut us down out wide.”

But Smith said that by the same to­ken, the Boks had learned a great deal about them­selves dur­ing the first Test.

“We had our camps (dur­ing Su­per Rugby) and two weeks in Plet­ten­berg Bay and we now have footage to ex­am­ine as to what worked and what did not,” the Chee­tahs coach said. “It was im­por­tant for us to just get this one un­der the belt and then have some­thing con­crete to work with.”

Smith said that meant the Boks had a foun­da­tion to work on in the face of a French back­lash, and would pre­pare ac­cord­ingly.

Back­line coach Smith has lost out­side cen­tre Jesse Kriel to in­jury but said he agreed with coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee that the best thing for the back­line would be to sim­ply bring in a re­place­ment at 13 rather than reshuf­fle the mid­field.

Lions cen­tre Lionel Mapoe is ex­pected to slot in along­side Jan Ser­fontein and there will be no temp­ta­tion to bring in the ex­pe­ri­enced Frans Steyn, who can play ei­ther 12 or 13.

“It is a pity for Jesse,” Smith said. “We would all have liked to see him build on his good per­for­mance and set­tle down at 13 af­ter hav­ing been played around the back­line. So it is bad luck for him but at the same time we know that we have to grow our depth, and Jesse will be back.”

Smith said that 12 was a vi­tal de­ci­sion-mak­ing po­si­tion and con­sis­tency should be pre­ferred. “I played there my­self (for the Chee­tahs, Tre­viso and the Boks) and while I know how vi­tal it is to make calls from 12, we have also been look­ing to shift some of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing to 13. But for now it is about con­ti­nu­ity as much as pos­si­ble and the back­line will be more set­tled if we make just one change.”

So, while Steyn is un­likely to start at his old home ground, Smith said his in­flu­ence in the squad was mas­sive. The 30-year-old is some­thing of an in­sti­tu­tion in French rugby hav­ing spent so many sea­sons with Rac­ing Metro and Mont­pel­lier.

“Frans is a very pop­u­lar guy in the squad. I worked with him when he was still at school (at Grey Col­lege in Bloem­fontein) and was dis­ap­pointed when we lost him to the Sharks,” Smith said.

“It is great to have him back and he is very pos­i­tive about his role in the squad. He is ‘a youn­gold guy,’” Smith smiled. “And his knowl­edge of French rugby has been in­valu­able. He has been a big in­flu­ence for us and has con­trib­uted hugely off the field. The guys re­ally look up to him.”

Smith said that his back­line had left four clear try-scor­ing changes on the Lof­tus turf and that his charges had to be more clin­i­cal this week

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