DURBAN - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee cut a gleeful figure after his team’s 41-23 bonus point win against Argentina in Salta on Saturday, his first away win as coach of the national team.
A plan of taking advantage of a Pumas side that travelled extensively through the year, as the Jaguares, was instrumental to victory according to the coach.
There is no secret around the fact that the Jaguares, being based out in the far west, have one of the more hectic travel schedules in Super Rugby. They are required to travel many more miles than any team, and thus often feel a hangover, especially with their limited squad.
As the Jaguares make up almost all of the Pumas squad, it goes without saying that the men in the sky-blue and white hoops would be feeling a little fatigued with the busy schedule they have had since February.
Of course, the Springboks have also had a fair amount of traveling to do, and even more rugby than their opposition as the Lions, Stormers and Sharks made the knockout rounds of Super Rugby with the Johannesburg team going all the way to the final.
However, Coetzee made provisions for this amount of rugby, and travel, by firstly altering their travel plans to Northwest Argentina this week; and by emphasising the importance of conditioning to the players.
“We changed our travel plan this year,” Coetzee explained as to why the Boks left a day earlier to settle in Buenos Aires. “Secondly, the players looked after themselves, in terms of their conditioning and recovery, very well.
“Our conditioning has been good, we play with high intensity and we have a very high work rate, at the set piece and general play.”
Coetzee went on to divulge his thoughts on the Pumas and their travel burden, while also letting in on the plan that was set for this past Saturday.
“In my opinion, the Pumas have had a lot of traveling this year, with the Jaguares and now in the Championship, and I can see that must have had an effect, in Port Elizabeth and in Salta.
“You must be able to scrum, must be able to maul and must be able to play and defend. Our plan was definitely to maul Argentina today.”
Captain Eben Etzebeth was also on hand to give his thoughts on how important this away win was for the Boks, mentioning too that their second half performances have been what has sealed the games in an apparent nod to the players’ conditioning.
“All the games so far this year have been enjoyable, and we have won all five with this being our first away win. It is nice to get an away win and we will celebrate it tonight,” Etzebeth gleamed.
“The first half was tough,” the captain added of the Salta Test. “But we went into the change room and got a good message. Both first halves were tight, here and in Port Elizabeth, but the guys responded to the message and we played well in the second halves.”
The Springboks now have a week off from Championship duty as they prepare for a big double header away from home. Firstly, they head to Perth for a Test against a Wallabies side that showed they have something in their tank this season, before a trip to Albany to take on the All Blacks.