1 DEFENCE, DEFENCE, DEFENCE
History shows that successful World Cup campaigns have been built on organised and totally committed tackling. In this regard the Springboks made a highly positive move in employing Stormers defence coach, Jacques Nienaber.
The defence was excellent against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth and will get better the longer he works with the players.
2 CONSISTENCY IN SELECTION
The World Cup is not the right time for experimentation. Settled teams win World Cups. Again, the Boks are in a good place, given that pretty much the first-choice team from France in 2007 is on duty again.
3 HAVE THE RIGHT PLAYERS/COACH IN PLACE
When the pressure cranks up in the knock-out phases, you don’t want to have trigger-happy folk in your party. You want calm heads.
In 2007, a masterstroke by Jake White was the securing of the services of Eddie Jones, the coach who took the Wallabies to within a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal of winning the 2003 World Cup.
The same could be said in 2011 with the appointment of Rassie Erasmus to the Springbok coaching staff.
4 CREATE THE RIGHT HEADSPACE
In 1987, All Blacks coach Brian Lochore billeted his players on farms during the tournament “to take them back to the land and traditional Kiwi values”.
In 1995, the Boks were propelled to victory by the rainbow nation.
In 2011, Peter de Villiers correctly says that the challenge for the Boks is to “maintain our excitement over the tournament”.
5 HAVE A DOMINANT SET PIECE
This has to be a given. Teams that win the World Cup win their line-out ball and are rock solid in the scrums. They do not have a wonky set piece.
Line-out-wise, the Boks are looking good, but their scrumming is not consistent. This is an area they have to sort out if they are to be contenders.
6 LOSE SOME GAMES BEFORE THE WORLD CUP
History shows that previous World Cup winners have drawn inspiration from hardships experienced not that long before the event.
Wake-up calls, reality checks, call them what you will… humility goes a long way to making a champion. For the Boks, most of the 2010 season will do the trick.
7 EMBRACE THE X-FACTOR (IF YOU HAVE IT)
This is no problem for the Wallabies but the Boks are sadly short of match-winners who can turn a game on its head with a spark of genius.
“Workmanlike” is the best description of almost all of the Springbok players. Francois Steyn used to have it but we are not sure he still does. Patrick Lambie has it but will he start?
Watch Bryan Habana – he is showing signs of rediscovering his mojo.
8 KICK YOUR GOALS
Only five tries have been scored in total over the last five World Cup finals. Joel Stransky did it with the boot in 1995, Wilkinson in 2003, and so on.
In this regard the Boks are smiling. Metronomic Morne (Steyn) seldom misses.
9 TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED
There is no such thing as pacing yourself in a quarter-final with an eye on the semis. Ask the All Blacks. Each game, Pool or otherwise, has to be treated as a final.
That is what tournaments are about. Seven games in seven weeks, each treated with the same respect, is how you have to approach it.
The Boks are too experienced to make this mistake.
10 PEAK AT THE RIGHT TIME
The World Cup is not won in the Tri-Nations, Six Nations or any other competition. Nor is it won in the Pool stages.
Again, ask the All Blacks, who for as long as anyone can remember have won the Tri-Nations in a World Cup year and then run up cricket scores in their pool games, only to come a cropper.
The sombre, sober Boks know this. This is why they rested players during the Tri-Nations.