CAPE TOWN – Independent Media's rugby writers say what they would like to see from the Springboks in their first home Test under new coach Rassie Erasmus.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen
1. A whole lot of grunt. England will come out all guns blazing and the Boks need to match it. There’s no Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Lood de Jager... but the pack as a whole must stand up and be counted. Show who is boss of Ellis Park, but don’t go overboard.
2. Faf being a leader. For too long the Boks have struggled with a No 9 who can dictate play and lead the back division. Faf de Klerk, back on his old home ground, has a chance to show SA he is the man to back going forward. I’d love a big show from him.
3. The back three going big. Both Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi and fullback Willie le Roux have X-factor about them; so let’s see it come to the fore. They’re strong and skilful men who have a great chance to shine in good conditions; let’s just hope they’re allowed to express themselves properly.
1. Play with imagination - Rassie says the tactics against Wales were a one-off because of the conditions. Let’s hope so. While there inevitably will be an element of “safety first” for the new coach, his players are used to playing an attacking game in Super Rugby and this must be replicated.
2. Play with pride in the jersey - You would think this is a given but who can forget the bewildered Boks of the last two years, shuffling around in record defeats, as much bereft of passion as of direction. The Boks must make us proud again.
3. Win at all costs - Forget Washington, Ellis Park is where this new Bok era will dawn. It is vital that the Boks under a new coach establish a winning culture as quickly as possible. And that does not mean going into their shells and relying on Handre Pollard to kick the points.
1. The Springboks need to show some ruthlessness. For far too long they have easily wilted under pressure leading to embarrassing and record defeats against the All Blacks, and a maiden loss to Italy. This unrelenting spirit not to lose should not only be when their backs are against the wall but should come as instinct.
2. Tries need to be the order of the day. The past two seasons have shown us the ugly and archaic side of Bok rugby where the team looked rudderless at best. Scoring tries calls for a more attack-minded approach which will not only secure bums on seats but victories as well.
3. May the X-factor of Dyantyi, Nkosi, Warrick Gelant, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Handre Pollard and De Klerk be allowed to thrive. All these players have shown good form in Super Rugby and in the English premiership and we must continue to see that at Test level.
1. Use that backline. The Springbok backline equals fire. There can be no doubts about that. But they need to be used. And as exciting as we all know those guys can be, they need to be given the space and ball to show that they can bring it in the Test arena as well.
2. Hold onto the ball. A tactical kick can create many opportunities. But do it as predictably and as recklessly as the Boks did it against Wales, and it loses those benefits, especially those box kicks. Mix things up. Alternate that with sniping play around the fringes or an unexpected blindside move. Anything.
3. Go the distance. There’s many things I’d like to see from Rassie’s Boks - for 80 minutes. Against a team like England, a good start is as vital as sustained pressure. Sustained strong defence. Sustained clinical attack. Sustained set-piece effort. A full perfomance is crucial.