The almost never-ending box-kicks that would’ve frustrated Springbok fans against France may be a tactic that will be buried somewhat against Scotland on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk’s default setting at the Stade de France was to roll the ball with his foot to the back of the ruck, wait for his “blockers” to protect him and then carry out a mechanical box-kick that seldom had enough height and were sometimes too far to be effective.
While some coaches may be in favour of those tactics, De Klerk is not renowned for his tactical kicking either – which makes the ploy even more puzzling, especially when you have a devastating back-three of Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi hungry for the ball.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus believes in applying pressure on European teams in northern-hemisphere in that manner, but even he suggested that it was overdone last weekend in the last-gasp 29-26 victory.
The few times that the ball did go wide, the South Africans looked dangerous with ball-in-hand, and they should’ve had two further tries to Cheslin Kolbe and Dyantyi – which were both ruled out for a knock-on and forward pass respectively.
Now it looks like Erasmus might give his three-quarters more licence to thrill at Murrayfield on Saturday.
“I thought we created chances against England and didn’t finish the opportunities,” the coach said when asked about the tactical approach between kicking and attacking against France.
“We weren’t good with the decision-making (against France) – the balance between when to run, when we are going to do the box-kick, or any kick…
“Maybe because of pressure and the weather, and losing the previous two matches, maybe we got a bit of tunnel vision and played a little bit within ourselves.
“So I’ve got no doubt that they will be spot-on (against Scotland).”
A clear evening is forecast for Edinburgh on Saturday for what will be a 7.20pm SA time kickoff, and Erasmus is expecting an attacking approach from Scotland as well.
“I’ve coached against Gregor (Townsend, Scotland’s coach) for Munster against Glasgow four times in one season. So I know how he coaches, and his style of coaching,” the former Bok loose forward said.
“It is definitely a fit team, a well-organised team that can really test you in all facets of the game. I know it’s going to be tough.
“They’re very much a Super Rugby, southern hemisphere style of play. It looks like it’s going to be fairly dry on Saturday. They do play tactically really well, but they’re not afraid to attack from anywhere.
“And that is how Gregor coaches. It’s going to be totally different to the challenges of England and France.”
Erasmus will name his team on Thursday, and will make at least one enforced change as De Klerk has returned to his English club Sale this week.
Training day 2 in Edinburgh - sunny skies at the Peffermill fields where the #Springboks continue with their preparations for Saturday's clash against Scotland. #boksontour#CastleLagerOutgoingTour#LoveRugby #SCOvRSA pic.twitter.com/LshqTxJWPP— South African Rugby (@Springboks) November 13, 2018
Warren Whiteley is also a doubtful starter due to a groin problem, while Eben Etzebeth is fit again after recovering from a foot injury.
Erasmus added that he was looking to “give a few guys chances”, but that it was a balancing act between that and not losing momentum from the win over France.@ashfakmohamed