How to master the northern hemisphere
1. Match fire with fire
While the Boks are a physical outfit, northern hemisphere teams are just as physical – and they enjoy getting stuck in, really stuck in.
The Boks will have to win the collisions and not stand back. They’re going to have to commit numbers to the breakdowns and not deviate from their game-plan that was so successful in the TriNations or try anything fancy.
Win the battle up front or the game is over.
2. Master the kicks
Often the conditions are not conducive to running the ball and, with the laws the way they are, the boot remains a key area of the game.
Zane Kirchner, who’s likely to be the man at fullback, can expect to be peppered with high ball.
So, too, the wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.
The Boks have to field the high kicks well and then think fast to turn defence into attack, either by running the ball up or returning the kick, with interest.
3. Dominate the set pieces
Northern hemisphere teams place a lot of emphasis on their scrumming power and lineout work and while the Boks have the best in the business when it comes to lineout play, they’re going to have to up their game at scrum time.
John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira fluctuated between the good and the bad this season so if the Boks are to be successful on tour they’re going to have to get the better of their opponents in the scrums.
4. Kick well
Fortunately for the Boks, they have two of the best kickers in world rugby – Fourie du Preez is in a class of his own at scrumhalf, while Morne Steyn has made the No 10 jersey his own.
While they’ll be reliant on the pack doing the work up front, Du Preez and Steyn will have to get the Boks into the right areas of the field for the side to be a threat.
Kirchner will also need to show he’s the right man to wear the 15 on his back.
5. Bring order to broken play
The Boks are a team that thrives on structure.
They know what works for them and they know best how to wear down the opposition.
In new conditions and against opponents they may not know all that well there’s the possibility of them losing some of their structure.
The French especially may look to play an unconventional game and open it up as much as possible. Ireland and Italy, too, could try to rattle the Boks with something out of the ordinary.
They must guard against this.
DOMINATORS: For the Boks to get the upper hand against France, Italy and Ireland, the front row of John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira will have to be on top of their game over the next three weeks.