If you thought defence was at the forefront of the players’ minds when they take the field, you’d better have a rethink: the Springboks under Heyneke Meyer want to score tries.
That doesn’t mean having a strong and solid defence isn’t important but Meyer and Co realise it’s just as crucial to have a dynamic and dangerous attacking game that’s able to convert pressure into points. It’s one of the reasons why Meyer has backed the flamboyant and versatile Willie le Roux at fullback this season.
The Cheetahs man was a revelation in Super Rugby and was rewarded for his outstanding efforts with a call-up to the Boks in June, where he featured at No 15 in all three Tests. He made a few blunders, but was generally authoritative and added an extra attacking dimension to the Bok back division.
Le Roux will continue in his role against Argentina this weekend when the Boks open their Rugby Championship account and according to the national team’s backline coach, Ricardo Loubscher, Le Roux will be given free reign from the fullback position.
“He’s such a versatile player and we need to make sure we create opportunities for him,” said Loubscher yesterday. “He’s the kind of guy who must play it as he sees it and he’s the one who must make the decisions on the field.”
Loubscher said the Boks were looking to continue their impressive attacking play from the Tests against Italy, Scotland and Samoa.
“There’s a massive focus as a backline to attack as a unit. When we do that we create confidence among the players. Our focus is to score tries so there’s a big emphasis on our counter-attacking play. The key thing is that we need to be prepared when those try-scoring opportunities arise and that means the players must show composure at all times.”
With Le Roux at fullback, wings Bryan Habana and Bjorn Basson and midfielders JJ Engelbrecht and Jean de Villiers in the team, the Boks certainly have a very dangerous attacking back division. All of these players showed what they’re capable of in the big victory over Samoa at Loftus Versfeld in June and it’s thus no surprise Loubscher is excited about what lies ahead.
But the former Bok wing also knows the big challenge with this new-look back division only starts now in the Rugby Championship. Argentina have shown they are no push-overs, while Australia and New Zealand have some great backline players, while the defences will also be far superior to those which the Boks faced in June.
Meyer will name his line-up for Saturday’s Test today. He was still mulling over his scrumhalf yesterday with his choices being Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak and the recalled Fourie du Preez. It will be interesting to see who Meyer goes with because if Du Preez doesn’t start then one’s got to question why he was brought back into the squad. Du Preez will, after all, only be available for the three home Tests in the competition.
l Felipe Contepomi will lead Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Soweto on Saturday in place of injured captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe. Contepomi, 35, who has retired from European club rugby as he winds down his career, will be making his debut in thesouthern hemisphere tournament that also includes Australia and New Zealand.
Juan Martin Hernandez, Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Felipe Contepomi (captain), Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo; Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera, Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Matias Diaz, Eusebio Guinazu, Juan Figallo. Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Lobo, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Mariano Galarza, Julio Farias Cabello, Tomas Cubelli, Santiago Fernandez, Horacio Agulla - Pretoria News