Boks won’t stray far from DNA, says O’Mahony

Peter O'Mahony leads Ireland as captain at Loftus Versfeld against the Springboks later today. | AFP

Peter O'Mahony leads Ireland as captain at Loftus Versfeld against the Springboks later today. | AFP

Published Jul 6, 2024


ONE of the major discussion points in the build-up to the Springboks’ first Test against Ireland today ever since Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery joined the national setup earlier this year, is what impact the new assistant coaches will have on the way South Africa plays.

There were glimpses of that new attacking approach during the recent Wales Test, with New Zealander Brown’s influence especially anticipated. On Friday, both camps weighed in on the Boks’ new ambition to add to their already formidable arsenal, and while some were more magnanimous in their opinions than others, the thread upon which the Boks’ game plan will be built, seems to be a certainty.

“With Brown coming into the South African backroom with Flannery,” said Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony in the north of Johannesburg, “we certainly have had a look at what they did against Wales.

“We are only one Test in, so it will be hard to predict what is coming but they won’t be going away from what they are incredibly good at. They are world champions for a reason and that base of their game is not going to change.

“I’m sure there will be a few new things and curve balls for us, but that is Test rugby. We have to adapt to it.”

A few hours later, in Pretoria, Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and captain Siya Kolisi seemed to unknowingly agree with the 34-year-old Munster loose-forward.

Said the Bok skipper: “You will be able to tell there is something different. The new coaches have come in at just the right time. Coach Tony’s way of playing, we all had to learn it and it gave us more motivation and excitement.

“You come in and you are learning something new every day. To win a World Cup, you have to become a student again. I am excited to see how it comes out tomorrow.”

Despite the Boks looking to expand their game plan, both skippers would agree that the platform to unleash their backs and earn the right to playing a wider game, will begin up front. A massive pack battle is expected and whoever wins the physical battle in the early exchanges, could well walk away with victory.

“It is an unbelievably important part of Test rugby,” O’Mahony said.

“We will be coming up against probably the best set piece in the world (today). It is a huge opportunity for us to show what we are all about in trying to contain them.”

The Test between the Boks and Ireland kicks off at 5.05pm at Loftus Versfeld.