Boks tar­get se­ries white­wash

But the team knows that there is still room for im­prove­ment as they face the fired-up French at fortress El­lis Park


IN SPITE OF Fran­cois Hougaard pos­sess­ing plenty of flair and X-fac­tor qual­i­ties, Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee says the 29-year-old must fo­cus only on do­ing the ba­sics well.

The Boks go into the third Test against France at El­lis Park to­mor­row 2-0 up in the se­ries, but will be gun­ning for a white­wash at a venue where sev­eral of the Bok play­ers have shone and ripped teams to shreds in Su­per Rugby.

No less than seven Lions play­ers are in the start­ing team for the match, the new­est be­ing tight­head prop Ruan Dreyer.

Hougaard comes in for an­other Lions man, Ross Cronje, who was ruled out ear­lier in the week be­cause of con­cus­sion. The for­mer Bulls man, who now plays for Worces­ter War­riors in the English Pre­mier­ship, has played off the bench in the first two Tests. Coet­zee said yes­ter­day Hougaard would bring plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence to a young back­line.

“Ob­vi­ously, scrumhalf is a key po­si­tion; it is part of the team’s spine,” said Coet­zee, “but Fran­cois brings a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to the backs and the good thing is he’s been play­ing scrumhalf all sea­son for Worces­ter, for 80 min­utes at a time, and he’s been ex­cep­tional.

“He’s not a wing (where he’s played for the Boks be­fore) ... No 9 is his best po­si­tion. He’ll bring power and pace to the po­si­tion and he’ll ask ques­tions around the fringes, but more than any­thing I want him to do his ba­sics well,” said Coet­zee.

“I want Fran­cois to get to the break­downs quickly, and get the ball out so we can play with the backs. There’s no pres­sure on him to do any­thing spe­cial ... he must just do his job.” With 41 Test caps, Hougaard is by far the most ex­pe­ri­enced back in the team.

The other ma­jor new­comer to the start­ing team is Dreyer, who takes over from Frans Mal­herbe, as Coet­zee looks to grow the “ca­pac­ity” among the tight­head props. “This is an op­por­tu­nity for us to build that ca­pac­ity. We have two great tight­heads in Frans and Coe­nie (Oosthuizen), but it’s al­ways healthy to have a well stocked tight­head prop cup­board.

“Ruan fully de­serves this chance. He’s been ex­cel­lent for the Lions for some time now and this is the right time to give him a go.”

Jean-Luc du Preez takes over at No 7 from the con­cussed Oupa Mo­hoje, while at out­side cen­tre Jesse Kriel re­turns for Lionel Mapoe.

“Jean-Luc has grabbed his op­por­tu­nity com­ing off the bench while I’m pleased to see Jesse next to Jan Ser­fontein again. Jesse is an ex­cel­lent com­mu­ni­ca­tor and he’s built a good part­ner­ship with Jan. He’s an out-and-out 13 and with his pace and guile and the width he gives us at 13 he cov­ers the wide chan­nels very well,” ex­plained Coet­zee.

Fit-again home-town flank Jaco Kriel will also get an op­por­tu­nity to play in front of his home fans as he’s won a place on the bench, now that Du Preez has moved into the start­ing team.

The Bok boss said he was hop­ing for an im­prove­ment in all depart­ments at El­lis Park, where a fast and open game is ex­pected to be played.

“I def­i­nitely want to see pro­gres­sion in all ar­eas. We need to ex­e­cute bet­ter, fin­ish off the chances we cre­ate, we need to up the ef­fort and in­ten­sity, es­pe­cially be­cause we’re play­ing on the Highveld this week, and I’d like us to show greater ac­cu­racy with ball in hand,” said Coet­zee.

“The plan is sim­ple ... there is clar­ity about what we want to do. We must just go out there are do it now.”

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