No Baabaas rugby for Boks – Stick

May un­leash the un­fa­mil­iar at Twick­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

DON’T ex­pect any­thing flashy from the Spring­boks in Europe in the next month.

Al­lis­ter Coet­zee and his team are un­der enor­mous pres­sure to turn things around fol­low­ing their poor show­ing in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, and it doesn’t get any tougher than fac­ing an Ed­die Jones- coached Eng­land in the first Test of their tour.

That’s fol­lowed by matches against Italy and Wales, both of whom will fancy their chances against a backs- to- the- wall Bok team.

But be­fore the Novem­ber 12 clash at Twick­en­ham, the Boks take on the Bar­bar­ians at Wem­b­ley next Satur­day – a side who will have, among oth­ers, three Li­ons play­ers in Kwagga Smith, Akker van der Merwe and Ruan Ack­er­mann.

It’s the game that Coet­zee has tar­geted to get ev­ery­thing in place for the big­ger chal­lenges that fol­low, and for that rea­son he has made it very clear there will be no run- at- all- costs rugby which is favoured by the Baabaas.

And yes­ter­day, on the eve of the squad’s de­par­ture, as­sis­tant coach Mzwandile Stick said the Boks were fo­cused on play­ing Test rugby from the off, to sort out the problems that have dogged them so far this year.

“The main thing is we need to be bet­ter than we were in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship and how we played against the All Blacks in Dur­ban. The key thing is to not play Baabaas rugby, but to take it on like a Test match,” said Stick.

“We want to come out of that game on a pos­i­tive note, es­pe­cially with Eng­land loom­ing. The Baabaas game is the start of us turn­ing things around for our coun­try.”

Stick, also ad­mit­ted that the Boks’ tac­tics and game plans were wrong in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, adding they were look­ing for greater bal­ance in North­ern Hemi­sphere.

“If I’m hon­est, we haven’t had a good bal­ance be­tween run­ning and kick­ing in our game up to now,” he said. “So it’s go­ing to be im­por­tant to find that bal­ance, and along with that, the play­ers’ skills need to be bet­ter be­cause that will al­low them to make bet­ter and cor­rect de­ci­sions on the field.

“We know we’ve got very pas­sion­ate fans and we know we let them down, es­pe­cially against New Zealand in Dur­ban, so yes, there is pres­sure on us to turn things around. But there’s al­ways pres­sure on the green and gold, even when the team is win­ning.”

It is hoped that a crop of young­sters will bring some- thing new and vi­brant to the Bok squad, even if it’s only in the open­ing tour game. How­ever, in new Test squad mem­bers Fran­cois Ven­ter, Sergeal Petersen, Jean- Luc du Preez and Roelof Smit, the Boks also have a chance to un­leash the un­fa­mil­iar on Eng­land in two weeks’ time.

“It’s great hav­ing these young­sters in the squad. They re­ally bring a lot of en­ergy, and they’ll view these five weeks as a big op­por­tu­nity for them (to make an im­pres­sion),” Stick said.

He was con­fi­dent of a much- im­proved show­ing by the Boks, and pointed to Ven­ter and his Free State Chee­tahs team as an ex­am­ple of how quickly things can change.

“Fran­cois led the Chee­tahs when times were good and bad, in Su­per Rugby and then to the Cur­rie Cup ti­tle. They turned things around and we also have the right tools in place to turn things around,” Stick added.

The Boks will have two days off in Lon­don be­fore start­ing their build- up to the Baabaas match on Mon­day.

FRAN­COIS VEN­TER: An ex­am­ple of how quickly things change

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