‘We can catch the All Blacks’

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - SPORT -

Ken Bor­land

The in­creased tempo at which the Spring­boks are play­ing is the sin­gle big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween the side in 2017 and the bum­bling 2016 out­fit, ac­cord­ing to for­mer na­tional coach Ian McIn­tosh.

The Spring­boks bat­tled to get out of the blocks in the first year of Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s coach­ing ten­ure, win­ning just four of their 12 matches and los­ing Tests against coun­tries like Ire­land, Ar­gentina, Italy and Wales.

McIn­tosh (above) also only won four of his 12 Tests dur­ing his 14 months in charge of the Boks in 1993/94, but he also had two draws – in­clud­ing one against the All Blacks in Auck­land – and they beat Aus­tralia in Syd­ney as he dragged SA rugby kick­ing and scream­ing into the mod­ern age.

Coet­zee has im­ple­mented a sim­i­larly dra­matic change in ap­proach this year, and the Spring­boks have re­sponded with two re­fresh­ing, con­vinc­ing wins over France.

“It’s al­ways a worry get­ting the right bal­ance in your play, but the in­ten­sity the Spring­boks have played with is what has im­pressed me most. I’ve seen snip­pets of what they’re do­ing at prac­tice and the only dif­fer­ence be­tween us and New Zealand is the tempo at which we play.

“These are early days, but if they carry on in­creas­ing their in­ten­sity like they have been do­ing and with the se­lec­tion of all these ju­niors who are ris­ing up the lad­der, then we can catch the All Blacks. If we keep that in­ten­sity, we will be a big threat.

“We’ve got the tal­ent, let me tell you, just as much as New Zealand do,” McIn­tosh told Satur­day Cit­i­zen at a Play­ers’ Fund and SA Rugby Leg­ends As­so­ci­a­tion train­ing day for the Vuka de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

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