Perth – The Springbok pack was angry on Tuesday after what had happened in Salta against Argentina, and they took it out on their special ‘Enforcer’ scrum machine.
The Bok forwards pummelled the machine at the posh Hale School in suburban Perth, and then each other in a few live scrums as they were drilled by scrum coach Pieter de Villiers and forwards boss Johann van Graan, with Heyneke Meyer watching closely.
They knew that they have to fix the humiliation of Salta, where Los Pumas had sent them scurrying backwards in the scrums – and they cannot afford a repeat in tomorrow’s Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies at Patersons Stadium (12.05pm kick-off SA time).
“I must say that my neck is a bit stiff, and we had a very good week in the scrums and really worked hard, and we definitely want to better our performance from Salta,” said hooker Adriaan Strauss, the man who will be at the heart of the Bok pack tomorrow.
“There were a couple of technical things that we didn’t do too well on the day, but luckily we can fix all of that. And I think the pack has shown in the last few years that we can be a good scrummaging pack on any given day, and we need to go back to that and need to work. We did revisit our standards and we need to up our tempo at scrum-time, and just need to scrum better.”
Strauss is now 28 and has amassed 36 Test caps since making his debut in this city against the Wallabies as a 22-year-old in 2008, but in many of those games he would’ve had to come on as a replacement for Bismarck du Plessis, one of the best hookers in the world.
When he’s at his best, Strauss isn’t far off Du Plessis, though, and some may think he is even better than his Sharks rival. He was certainly better than Du Plessis in Salta as he brought great impetus to the Bok pack in the second half, rallying the forwards to repel the Argentine onslaught and paving the way for a dramatic comeback as the South Africans snatched a 33-31 win.
The hooker competition will continue, but Strauss does not feel aggrieved about the limited number of Bok starts that have come his way due to the presence of Du Plessis.
“It’s not frustrating at all. I know Bismarck from my schooldays and I respect him as a player and an individual off the field as well. But it’s good for the squad as well as while we are competing for the same position, we compete for the same team too,” Strauss said.
“I believe that a good, healthy competition really makes you perform better and keeps you on your toes, and it’s very good for the squad. To get a start is very special for me.”
Strauss will be hopeful that things go smoothly in the line-outs as well with the return of Victor Matfield at No5, and he will also look to physically dominate Wallaby opposite number James Hanson, who will be making his first Test start tomorrow.
“Victor he is an amazing player and a very good leader. And he knows a thing or two about line-outs. So I’m very excited about it, to be playing alongside him again,” said Strauss. “We respect their set-piece quite a lot – their contesting at line-out-time is very good, they really spoil your ball at line-out-time and have the ability to put in a big one in the scrums here and there while being solid on their own ball too. And Hanson is a good scrummager. That’s probably one of his strengths, so it’s definitely not a weakness at all.” - The Star