No Baabaas rugby for Boks – Stick
May unleash the unfamiliar at Twickers
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