Springboks must speed it up at line-out time against All Blacks, says Mark Andrews

Eben Etzebeth will have to have a strong line-out against the All Blacks EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

Eben Etzebeth will have to have a strong line-out against the All Blacks EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

Published Oct 25, 2023


Master jumper Mark Andrews believes that the Springboks have an easy fix for their wobbling line-out ahead of Saturday's World Cup final against the All Blacks – it's all about the tempo.

Andrews ruled the skies in the lineouts and kick-offs over a wonderful Bok career that started in 1994 and spanned 77 Tests until 2001 at the age of just 29, including the victorious 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand, where he played at No 8 instead of his usual No 5 lock position.

Now 51, Andrews told Independent Media yesterday that the 1995 Bok squad are debating the composition of the team furiously in their WhatsApp group and the thinking is divided at the moment as to whether SA Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and coach Jacques Nienaber should make any changes to the team that will run out at the Stade de France on Saturday (kick-off 9pm).

But while Nienaber will announce the team tomorrow, there is some hard work required to sort out the line-outs.

The Boks were put under tremendous pressure by Maro Itoje and the rest of the England pack in the setpiece, which saw Franco Mostert and Eben Etzebeth either get beaten in the air or Bongi Mbonambi delivering a skew throw.

The All Blacks possess top-class jumpers such as Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett and Shannon Frizell who will look to copy England's approach and prevent the Boks from establishing a solid launching pad for their driving mauls or attack, which will be even more crucial due to the expected wet conditions in Paris on Saturday.

“In the line-out, I think we are taking too much time. So, we line up with the opposing set-up and time builds pressure. Bongi is standing there and they are setting up and moving with our guys,” Andrews said.

“If you look at our first line-out against England, we basically took a minute to get that line-out going. We sit, we huddled, we talked, we went back, we looked back again ... Bongi is standing there and he's going, ‘Jeez, okes, just kind of (sort it out)'.

“The longer he's standing there, the more the pressure builds. I would like to see us speed our line-outs up very quickly.”

Blindside flank Pieter-Steph du Toit hasn't been a regular source of line-out possession either, so the Boks could call the ball on him a bit more often too.

Andrews agreed in that respect but expressed his concern about the Boks' lack of variety with their maul tactics as well.

“Then, the other thing concerning me immensely is that we have tried to maul every side, from Ireland to Scotland and it's not working.

“We keep on trying to maul, we keep on getting turned over, lose the ball, ball held up,” he said.

“We've got to vary our game. If you look at the All Black game (at Twickenham), we had the dummy maul and we played off the back.

“If you look at the try that RG Snyman scored, we scored it because Deon Fourie peeled off the line-out straight away – they (England) didn't expect that.

“So, I think we're being ‘doff' (dull) in those terms.”