Boks will be ‘much bet­ter’ against France

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN jac­ques.van­der­west­huyzen@inl.co.za

CLER­MONT fly­half Camille Lopez has been sin­gled out as the big­gest threat fac­ing the Spring­boks when they clash with France in Paris on Satur­day night.

That’s ac­cord­ing to for­mer Bok as­sis­tant coach and cur­rent as­sis­tant to Heyneke Meyer at Stade Fran­cais in Paris, John McFar­land.

Four of the club’s play­ers are likely to front the Boks this week­end, but it is Cler­mont’s Lopez who the Boks should be most cau­tious of this Satur­day.

“He’s a left-footer, with a good pass and he likes tak­ing the ball to the line,” said McFar­land yes­ter­day.

“Camille is in top form right now for Cler­mont and has played a big part in their suc­cess this sea­son. He’s good at putting play­ers into holes and will be a guy the Boks must keep an eye on.”

Lopez is back in the French team 18 months af­ter suf­fer­ing an hor­rific an­kle in­jury and is set to earn his 17th cap this week­end. He has not faced the Boks be­fore.

Ac­cord­ing to McFar­land, his scrumhalf Bap­tiste Serin and the backs Teddy Thomas and Gael Fickou are play­ers the Boks have to show plenty of re­spect.

“Serin has a quick pass­ing game, while Teddy is a real fin­isher out wide. And Fickou at 13 is in the form of his life. He’s a big, strong man with good feet and pow­er­ful tackle, but he’s also a game-breaker. He’s as good as any cen­tre I’ve worked with over the years.”

In the for­wards, McFar­land said the locks (Yoann Maestri and Paul Gabril­lagues) would prove a hand­ful for the Boks, while No 8 Louis Pi­camoles would be the main ball-car­rier and some­one the Boks would have to try and “take out of the game”.

While a big Test was in the off­ing, the for­mer Bok as­sis­tant said Rassie Eras­mus’ team would be much bet­ter off this week, hav­ing got a game be­hind them.

“They scrummed well last week, dom­i­nated most ar­eas, while the de­fence was also solid. It was low risk stuff.

“With more ex­pe­ri­ence com­ing in this week, in the form of Faf de Klerk and Wil­lie le Roux, I sus­pect they’ll be bet­ter off.

“Fran­cois Louw could also take up a po­si­tion on the bench.”

McFar­land said it would be in­ter­est­ing to see what Eras­mus did with his back­row.

“If Franco Mostert comes in at lock, it would mean Pieter-Steph du Toit mov­ing to flank and ei­ther Duane Ver­meulen or War­ren White­ley miss­ing out … it’s a big call.”

Af­ter go­ing down to Eng­land last week­end, McFar­land felt it was a must­win game for Eras­mus and his team this week­end.

“The Boks got un­lucky last week, but in Test rugby you don’t al­ways get the de­ci­sions you want. You’ve got to move on,” he said.

“The Boks need to win this week. For all the good this year, Eras­mus’ team is still only at a 45% win rate, and he knows they need to win again, and more reg­u­larly.”

Eras­mus will name his team this af­ter­noon.

France’s Camille Lopez is in top form, says John McFar­land. | EPA/YOAN VALAT

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