Cape Town - Jake White has questioned the absence of a lineout specialist in the Springbok side picked by coach Heyneke Meyer yesterday for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane.
Meyer opted to drop No 5 lock and lineout organiser Juandré Kruger in favour of Bulls No 4 Flip van der Merwe to partner Eben Etzebeth in the second row at Suncorp Stadium. The Bok coach explained yesterday that “what you lose in the lineout, you gain in other areas”, referring to how Van der Merwe hits the rucks and mauls and is physical in defence.
Former Bok boss and current Brumbies coach White is in South Africa on holiday, and was present at the Western Province practice at Newlands yesterday. Four of his Brumbies forwards – the loose trio of Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy, as well as hooker Stephen Moore – were included by coach Ewen McKenzie in the Wallabies team yesterday, with Mowen and Fardy two of the lineout jumpers alongside Reds locks James Horwill and Rob Simmons.
“It’s not a case of whether Juandré Kruger should play or not. The point is you’ve got to find someone in your pack of forwards that can run a lineout.
“I’ve always been the kind of guy who likes to pick at least two guys in the lineout that can jump – that’s why Juan Smith played, Victor played, Spies played. One thing about set-pieces is that more tries are scored from lineouts, because the backs are 20 yards apart.
“If you’ve got two guys like Etzebeth and Flippie, they are hard to pick up and hard to move on the ground. Etzebeth is a good lineout forward, but he’s not a five lock. To play Australia with four guys like Mowen, Simmons, Horwill and Fardy, it’s going to be quite tough for him to run a lineout.
“If they don’t kick it out, then they are going to play into the hands of Folau, who is really a great rugby player. James O’Connor, even though he hasn’t played his best rugby, can actually counter-attack.
“They are two supposed threats if the Boks don’t kick it out, and if you do kick it out, then you haven’t picked a forward pack that can contest the lineout or win it on your terms. You can get it at two, no problem, but you can’t play rugby from two ball. You can maul and that, but not from the halfway line. That aspect does worry me.”
White also gave some insight into how the Boks can overcome the threat of Wallabies fetcher flank Hooper. “No different to how you neutralise McCaw, David Pocock, Schalk Burger or Heinrich Brüssow – you’ve just got to get there early. You’ve got to make sure that you cover the ball quickly before he can actually leave the window open,” he said.
“The second thing is that sometimes you go to him first so that he makes the tackle, because the problem is that when he gets there second or third, he has a great feeling for when he gets on to the ball. Making the first tackle will force him to get off the ground, which takes him out of the next two phases.” - Cape Times