Coetzee happy not to make many changes to his starting line-up
HAVING never won a game in Durban, in six attempts with three draws within that, France are ready to throw everything into the siege of Kings Park today (kickoff 5pm) while the Boks are looking for incremental improvements from last week’s positive showing.
It is perhaps a bit apt that the French Barbarians are in town at the same time as the national team for the feeling around Durban is that Les Bleus are here for an almighty battle. This horde of proud Frenchmen are preparing themselves for a huge second wave attack after the embarrassment of Loftus. And for the Boks? It is simply about improving their game.
For the first time in a long time, coach Allister Coetzee was able to smile at the end of a Springbok performance. It was not the complete performance, and there was plenty to work on, but it was good enough to beat an undercooked French side and set a stake in the ground.
This week the threat will be bigger, and the game tougher, so Coetzee has called for more of the same, with little improvements all round. With the French rallying their cavalry – the reinforcements from Clermont and Toulon – shaking off the last bit of rust, and licking their wounds, Coetzee has turned a blind eye to the snarling Tricolore beast at the gates, looking towards his own camp instead.
“The French would not have been happy with their performance,” Coetzee commented. “But to be honest, the focus is on what we want to do and our process. “We are off to a good start and we want to continue, irrespective of who comes in and who is not playing for them. We know we need to improve, and we want to get it right. In Test match rugby, you will be tested and it won’t get easier.”
France have made eight changes, which is being viewed as a massive strengthening of many areas of their game. Meanwhile, the Springboks have made just the one injury enforced change that Coetzee believes makes little difference to their starting line-up’s abil- exhibition game there, in every sense of the word.
It was appropriate that the first game of rugby at the iconic Moses Mabhida stadium saw plenty of tries, as the South Africa ‘A’ side downed the flair-filled Barbarians 36-28.
It was a game for the individuals in the SA A team to try to shine, and there were a few that must have caught the eye ity.
Lionel Mapoe comes in for the concussed Jesse Kriel to partner Jan Serfontein, with Coetzee happy with a like-forlike swop rather shuffling of the midfield to accommodate someone like Frans Steyn.
“It was an easy selection for me this week,” Coetzee explained. “The team performed well and we were happy with combinations, so with the injury, it was a no brainer to bring Lionel in as the only of coach Allister Coetzee, but on the night, the win would still have tasted sweet.
With very little on the line for the SA ‘A’ side, and even less for the French Barbarians, the mantra for the evening under the Moses Mabhida arch was to entertain, and it was the visitors who were first into their work.
Some slick handling, and a enforced change at 13. The hope is that they too will combine well in the end.”
With the French bolstered by some pretty hefty forwards, as well as a new and exciting half back pairing, the aim for the Boks will be to try and nullify the momentum of the enraged Les Bleus. Should the Boks have the physical ascendency, the expectation is that the tries will flow.
“We want to stop the momentum of the French this few audacious offloads in the first couple of minutes saw the Barbarians on the SA ‘A’ side’s line, only for the scrumhalf Yann Lesgourgues to sneak the ball over the line from inches out. Sharks old boy Fred Michalak added the extras.
The SA ‘A’ side soon saw what was required in this exhibition game as speedy Lwazi Mvovo got their first try. week with our defence,” Coetzee went on. “We know they have a big physical team, and if they are not picking and going through Louis Picamole they will be charging off No 9 with their big wing Vermi Vakatawa, and their centres.
“If you get on the front foot it becomes easy to play the game, you get to have width, and get the space.”
So, other than trying to silence the French, Coetzee has also pointed out a few key areas that will be ‘work-ons’ in only the second game of the year.
“We will also hope to maintain the good things from Loftus; the set piece. We can be sure that France will come out and improve their scrum, so we have to be neat and tidy there. Our line-out could be better, we have done a lot of work on it this week. We also made a few other errors and we want to cut those down too, but we can improve in all departments in the game.
“I don’t want to see less intensity and less effort though,” he concluded.
Mvovo got his brace late on in the match to make the result secure with Fred Zelinger putting over the conversion.
SOLE MAN: Lionel Mapoe is the solitary change in today’s Springbok starting XV.