Jaco Taute is ready to become Western Province’s new hitman.
The team that will face the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday is only scheduled to be announced tomorrow, but it’s no secret that Stormers fullback Taute is being primed to jog on at inside centre where he will add grunt to the backline – much like he did as a replacement during a 27-14 win against the Lions last week.
“Jaco will have to get used to defending in that channel, but in those 20 minutes (against the Lions) he made some decent hits there,” WP attack coach Robbie Fleck told reporters yesterday.
“Decent hits” is what has put Province, the most prolific defensive side, into first place on the standings this season, and Taute’s deployment in the midfield will be a physical upgrade.
At 1.87m and 98kg, Taute has the body mass index of a forward, and he’s got the mentality to go with it.
“One of Jaco’s core skills is that he’s extremely strong at the breakdown,” added Fleck.
“He made a great hit on (Lions centre) Howard Mnisi and then powered through the breakdown.”
Turnovers are once again complementing WP’s air-tight defence and Taute’s value as a potential ball-hawk will only increase the number of opportunities for burners like Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Kobus van Wyk to get across the line.
“I’ve always been a player who likes to have ball in hand… and convert defence into attack,” Taute said.
“The way the team’s playing now, (if) there’s an opportunity to play inside centre… I’ll seize it with both hands.”
Fleck also likes what Taute brings as a take-charge leader.
“His organisation and communication skills are a real plus for us,” he said.
“He’s an excellent communicator and organises the guys around him, and that’s a key point for us going forward.”
Go-forward is Taute’s speciality. He finishes a distant second to incumbent No 12 Michael van der Spuy as a distributor, but his direct running game will test the defensive resolve of opposing flyhalves and improve the efficiency of WP’s attacking breakdown.
“He’s a strong ball-carrier and he gets in there and secures good clean ball, because he’s very strong on the deck,” Fleck noted.
The Province coach wants to see an improvement in structured attack – attack from set phases – and Taute is sure to help reach this goal.
“King’s space” is the turf directly behind the tackler and the tempo of the WP attack relies on ball carriers dominating the collisions, launching into king’s space, and then actively working back to recoil (place the ball).
Achieving this narrows the window of opportunity for arriving defenders to target the ball and buys time for the Province cleaners to descend on the tackle point, both of which increase continuity and sustain the tempo of the attack.
For Taute the move will present a chance to showcase his abrasive attributes, rediscover the form that saw him run out for the Springboks in 2012, and endear himself to the Newlands faithful. - Cape Argus