Kick­ing goals won’t be enough to beat the best

Coet­zee won’t change Steyn as ‘he un­der­stands what is needed’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - DAR­RYN POL­LOCK AND ASHFAK MO­HAMED

DE­SPITE their re­cent form and a ham­mer­ing at the hands of the All Blacks in Christchurch three weeks ago, there is a small flame of be­lief for the Spring­boks on this wet Dur­ban day.

There is no way that the Boks can go toe- to- toe with the world’s best right now, but there are a few fac­tors that could go their way.

Kick­ing mae­stro Morne Steyn was the hero of Lof­tus last Satur­day against the Wal­la­bies. It wasn’t pretty, or even that ex­cit­ing, but many a dis­il­lu­sioned fan had a smile in the of­fice on Monday morn­ing.

Bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has re­it­er­ated that the set- piece will be their foun­da­tion and if it leads to dom­i­nance over 80 min­utes, then the ball- in- hand game should come.

The All Blacks have had a rig­or­ous travel sched­ule. Play­ing in the caul­dron that is Ar­gentina be­fore fly­ing to Dur­ban, it is bound to dull their edge. But cap­tain Kieran Read be­lieves that they have had enough rest on the coast de­spite the short turn- around.

“We only got into Dur­ban late on Monday, so it’s been a short turn­around. We’ve had to work hard to en­sure our bod­ies and minds are ready for what we will ex­pe­ri­ence on Satur­day,” Read said yes­ter­day.

“But we’ve been do­ing this travel ( be­tween Ar­gentina and South Africa) for the past three or four years. We’ve pre­pared in much the same way, and have been rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful.

“So this week, it’s been about trust­ing in that process and be­liev­ing that we will be in a po­si­tion to fire on the week­end.”

Of course, the All Blacks have had to make ad­just­ments af­ter star scrumhalf Aaron Smith was sent home in dis­grace fol­low­ing a dal­liance with a fe­male at Christchurch Air­port. Since then, he has made a teary apol­ogy and has left his team­mates in the ca­pa­ble hands of TJ Per­e­nara.

Dur­ban it­self has its own hoodoo over New Zealand. Out of eight en­coun­ters at Kings Park, only three have gone the way of the Ki­wis. Rain is also pre­dicted, which should play into the hands of the more con­ser­va­tive hosts.

Mean­while, Coet­zee be­lieves Faf de Klerk’s de­fence is not prob­lem­atic and Steyn just needs to re­peat his per­for­mance from last week’s 18- 10 vic­tory over the Aussies.

Rudy Paige’s con­cus­sion and a groin prob­lem for Jesse Kriel saw De Klerk re­in­stated at No 9 and Damian de Al­lende at in­side cen­tre de­spite both bat­tling with their per­for­mances re­cently.

Apart from be­ing caught at the back of rucks and be­ing in­de­ci­sive at times, De Klerk was guilty of a num­ber of de­fen­sive er­rors in the 41- 13 de­feat to the All Blacks at the AMI Sta­dium, and af­ter start­ing seven Tests in 2016, he was axed for the Wal­laby en­counter.

His Lions half­back part­ner El­ton Jan­tjies also had to make way af­ter an­other un­con­vinc­ing per­for­mance at No 10, with for­mer and cur­rent Bulls Steyn and Paige get­ting an op­por­tu­nity.

But af­ter re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to move Fran­cois Hougaard from wing to scrumhalf, Coet­zee feels De Klerk won’t re­peat his mis­takes to­day, where he will be up against the in- form Per­e­nara.

“With Rudy Paige con­cussed and hasn’t made the pro­to­col, I looked to give Faf an­other op­por­tu­nity.

“Of course he’s in my ( opin­ion) a great rugby player. And ob­vi­ously, he would’ve learned from lessons in the past – he’ll be a bet­ter player come this week­end,” he said.

“Look, de­fen­sively it wasn’t just Faf de Klerk’s prob­lem. It starts at set- piece and they got a good scrum and the left shoul­der up.

“We can­not af­ford to al­low that – our flankers… it’s cru­cial to as­sist Faf with that.

“He might be a dif­fer­ent scrumhalf to Rudy Paige, but the ba­sics of the game stay the same – he’s got to have ac­cu­rate ser­vice, clean the ball and get it away as quickly as pos­si­ble to make sure Morne has enough time and space be­fore their rush de­fence gets to them.”

Steyn was hailed by the coach for scor­ing all 18 points with four penal­ties and two drop goals against Aus­tralia.

But the re­al­ity is that while he kicked well at goal, his tac­ti­cal kick­ing left a lot to be de­sired as a num­ber of aim­less kicks just handed pos­ses­sion back to the Wal­la­bies.

The Aus­tralians weren’t able to take full ad­van­tage of that, although they did score from a bad kick by Bryan Ha­bana, with Is­rael Fo­lau launch­ing the counter- at­tack that saw Scott Sio fall­ing over the line un­der the up­rights.

The All Black back- three of Ben Smith, Is­rael Dagg and Waisake Na­holo are lethal in space, while fly­half Beau­den Bar­rett also pos­sesses ex­treme pace and will test Steyn’s di­rect de­fence.

Just kick­ing goals won’t be enough to beat the world cham­pi­ons, though, and Steyn will need to bring in strike- run­ners such as Juan de Jongh, Ha­bana and Hougaard out wide.

“Morne Steyn, like I said last week, did a great job for us against Aus­tralia. He’s been around the block and he’s an ex­pe­ri­enced player. We are not go­ing to force Morne Steyn to change his game per se, but he un­der­stands what is needed,” Coet­zee said.

“He un­der­stands that at 10, we need to have sharp de­ci­sions, quick de­ci­sions, with­out any other un­forced er­rors in that po­si­tion, and he’s been do­ing that.”

CAN FAF PASS THE TJ TEST? The hopes of the world cham­pi­ons rest in the hands of TJ Per­e­nara, while op­po­site num­ber Faf de Klerk gets a shot at re­demp­tion in Dur­ban to­day.

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