PRETORIA – The French may be world renowned for their wine making abilities but Springbok boss Allister Coetzee considers himself the master in finding the right blend of rugby that will make his team the best in the world again.
For a long time while coaching the Stormers, Coetzee was often lambasted for his defence minded approach but in assistant coaches Franco Smith and Brendan Venter, Coetzee believes that he will be able to mix the right ingredients to make his team play winning rugby.
Coetzee, though, continues to harp on finding the right balance but he is now emphasising the need to know the right time to run, kick and defend, traits that he believes have been evident in some of the country’s Super Rugby franchises this year.
However, key to Coetzee’s style of play will be the ultimate result and it will all be about playing winning rugby.
The Springboks will be desperate to get back to winning ways after last year’s disastrous season where they managed to win only four out of their 12 Tests and regardless of how spectacular their blend of rugby will be this year, winning will remain the only barometer which Coetzee and his team will be judged by.
“There’s a good balance that exists in the team environment and a lot of people want to know our style of play. We’ve got to win Test matches. We’ve got to get out of the blocks and win Test matches. I’ve got a Franco Smith and a Brendan Venter so it’s almost like a wine maker,” said Coetzee.
"The one is very attack driven and minded and you can see that in the way the Cheetahs play and you have Brenden Venter who has got to get the defence right. But somewhere someone has got to fuse this and make sure that balance is right. I’ve always been someone who professes balance in rugby union.
"You cannot just run, if you run and play too much you will concede a lot of turnovers and will be behind your poles as we have seen in Super Rugby at certain stages. You cannot just kick, if you kick too much then it is also not ideal.
"I’m happy that Super Rugby teams they have shown the intent, the attacking intent which is great. All we need to do now is to get that balance right and get that balance right knowing what’s coming and what we are facing."
With a healthy sprinkling of Lions players who have mastered the art of blending the expansive game with a steely defence and a host of other exciting players that have put in some scintillating performances in Super Rugby, it is now up to Coetzee to make the right calls with his team selection if he is to yield the perfect blend of exciting and winning rugby.
The ultimate proof of Coetzee’s wine making and rugby abilities will be put to the test on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld against a French side who are revered not only for their wine making talents but for playing the game with a swagger that has the world adoring their champagne rugby.
It will take a little bit more than being a master blender for Coetzee and his team to beat the French, they will need to believe in themselves and avoid falling back to their old ways which left a bitter and bad taste in everyone’s mouth last year.
“Hopefully we can get off to a good start and out of the blocks and it is what this team needs at this point in time, just a little bit of confidence,” Coetzee said.