Boks hope to fix li­ne­out is­sues

France ex­pected to pile on pres­sure for Bok hooker Marx af­ter a woe­ful dis­play against Eng­land last Sat­ur­day

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - CRAIG RAY

Spring­bok hooker Mal­colm Marx will be the man un­der the most pres­sure in Paris on Sat­ur­day night af­ter his throw­ing-in hor­ror show against Eng­land last Sat­ur­day.

The Spring­boks’ north­ern hemi­sphere tour started with a 12-11 de­feat be­cause at least three gilt-edged at­tack­ing li­ne­outs‚ me­tres from the Eng­land line‚ ended in turnovers, with Marx miss­ing his tar­gets like a strug­gling sales­man.

Even with the min­i­mum of anal­y­sis France will know to put Marx un­der pres­sure from the out­set.

The li­ne­out‚ when em­ployed ef­fec­tively, is a dev­as­tat­ing at­tack­ing weapon and a bril­liant de­fen­sive as­pect of the game. But when throws are sprayed aim­lessly then it be­comes a li­a­bil­ity.

The Boks gifted Eng­land de­fen­sive turnovers last week‚ which cost the tourists points af­ter they did just about ev­ery­thing else right. France will be itch­ing to test Marx’s met­tle in the 44th meet­ing be­tween the sides.

There is also a sense of irony that Stade de France is where the Spring­boks‚ with Vic­tor Mat­field and John Smit in their pomp‚ gave one of the great­est li­ne­out ex­hi­bi­tions in the modern game.

Mat­field al­most sin­gle hand­edly won the 2007 World Cup fi­nal by poach­ing six Eng­land throws and dis­rupt­ing many oth­ers while he and Smit con­nected seam­lessly on the Boks’ own ball to keep Eng­land at bay.

Smit is in Paris as an an­a­lyst and hope­fully he and Marx have talked over a cup of cof­fee this week.

The burly Li­ons hooker is a bril­liant rugby player – per­haps the best player in the loose in the game cur­rently. But if he con­tin­ues to fal­ter un­der pres­sure when throw­ing in his other at­tributes are nul­li­fied.

It might help that pro­vin­cial team­mate Franco Mostert is back in the start­ing lineup this week‚ re­plac­ing the in­jured Eben Etze­beth‚ af­ter miss­ing the Twick­en­ham clash. Mostert is Mat­field‚ to Marx’s Smit. And that can only be a good thing for the un­der­pres­sure Bok hooker.

The re­turn of Faf de Klerk at scrumhalf should also im­prove the Boks’ speed from the base of rucks af­ter Ivan van Zyl doggedly played un­der in­struc­tion to keep the Boks in good field po­si­tion last week. De Klerk’s ex­pe­ri­ence and nat­u­ral in­stincts on both at­tack and de­fence will pose tougher ques­tions for France than Van Zyl asked of Eng­land.

Wil­lie le Roux’s re­turn at full­back in place of Damian Willemse is an­other boost. Willemse was good against Eng­land but his chances were lim­ited in a suf­fo­cat­ing en­vi­ron­ment‚ although he still found room to step half the English back­line in one mag­i­cal mo­ment.

Le Roux doesn’t have Willemse’s twin­kle toes but he does have vi­sion‚ pace and tim­ing. The 50-cap vet­eran ghosts into space at de­cep­tive

The three changes are all pos­i­tive for the Boks while the bench‚ with Ch­es­lin Kolbe back in the mix‚ also has some X-fac­tor.

But as usual the foun­da­tion will come from the for­wards and out­side of the li­ne­out – they were mag­nif­i­cent at Twick­en­ham last week.

The scrum went well‚ bar­ring one penalty when Eng­land loose­head prop Ben Moon scrummed with his shoul­ders fac­ing Har­rods and his bum pointed at Heathrow‚ and yet still won a penalty against the un­for­tu­nate speed‚ which of­ten stresses de­fences. Wilco Louw.

It ul­ti­mately proved the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing, and Louw has been dropped for Vin­cent Koch this Sat­ur­day.

In the loose the pack bul­lied Eng­land on the gain­line‚ while the break­down was tidy but not de­ci­sive. An­other per­for­mance like that against Les Blues and the backs will have a won­der­ful foun­da­tion to make good on.

France coach Jac­ques Brunel ex­pects the Boks to rain kicks down on his wings as they did at Twick­en­ham and, as a con­se­quence, has dropped wing Gael Fickou. In­stead Damian Pe­naud‚ usu­ally a cen­tre with a strong kick­ing game‚ will op­er­ate on the wing.

“We ex­pect a lot of kick­ing from the Spring­boks to the flanks and I think Damian has a lit­tle more to of­fer‚” Brunel said. “Fickou is still in the team as a sub­sti­tute and has made a re­ally good start to the sea­son. He is phys­i­cally strong but we pre­fer not to change the cen­tre part­ner­ship of [Mathieu] Bastareaud and [Ge­of­frey] Doumay­rou.

“It’s hard to know what to ex­pect from the Spring­boks. Th­ese past sea­sons‚ they’ve had a dif­fer­ent game,” he said.

“We know that the phys­i­cal in­ten­sity will be there‚ but I’m not sure they have a rhythm‚ es­pe­cially if there is rainy weather.”

In the pre­vi­ous 43 meet­ings be­tween the sides the Boks have won 26 times and France 11‚ with six draws.

In Paris France have won three of 11 clashes with the Boks win­ning seven‚ in­clud­ing the last two in 2013 and 2017.

Teams:

France – 15 Maxime Medard‚ 14 Teddy Thomas‚ 13 Mathieu Bastareaud‚ 12

I’m not sure they have a rhythm‚ es­pe­cially if there is rainy weather

Ge­of­frey Doumay­rou‚ 11 Damian Pe­naud‚ 10 Camille Lopez‚ 9 Bap­tiste Serin‚ 8 Louis Pi­camoles‚ 7 Arthur Itur­ria‚ 6 Wences­las Lau­ret‚ 5 Yoann Maestri‚ 4 Se­bastien Va­haamahina‚ 3 Ce­date Gomes Sa‚ 2 Guil­hem Guirado (c)‚ 1 Jef­fer­son Poirot Subs: 16 Camille Chat‚ 17 Dany Priso‚ 18 Rabah Sli­mani‚ 19 Paul Gabril­lagues‚ 20 Mathieu Ba­bil­lot‚ 21 An­toine Dupont‚ 22 An­thony Bel­leau‚ 23 Gael Fickou Spring­boks – 15 Wil­lie le Roux‚ 14 S’bu Nkosi‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Damian de Al­lende‚ 11 Aphiwe Dyan­tyi‚ 10 Han­dré Pol­lard‚ 9 Faf de Klerk‚ 8 War­ren White­ley‚ 7 Duane Ver­meulen‚ 6 Siya Kolisi (c)‚ 5 Franco Mostert‚ 4 Pi­eter-Steph du Toit‚ 3 Frans Mal­herbe‚ 2 Mal­colm Marx‚ 1 Steven Kit­shoff Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 17 Thomas du Toit‚ 18 Vin­cent Koch‚ 19 R G Sny­man‚ 20 Fran­cois Louw‚ 21 Em­brose Papier‚ 22 El­ton Jan­tjies‚ 23 Ch­es­lin Kolbe

Pic­ture: Chris Hyde/GETTY IM­AGES

LEADER: Siya Kolisi, South Africa cap­tain, will be hop­ing to guide his team to vic­tory over the French in Paris on Sat­ur­day, af­ter a nar­row loss to Eng­land last Sat­ur­day.

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