BLOEMFONTEIN - Springbok attack coach Franco Smith has dared Australia to kick as much ball as they want on the Boks’ supposed weak and fragile back-three division.
The teams clash in a key Rugby Championship match here on Saturday (kick-off 5pm SS1) with the Boks desperate to bounce back after losing 57-0 to the All Blacks in New Zealand last time out and only drawing with the Wallabies in Perth before that.
One of the major talking points about the Boks in the build-up to this weekend’s game has been around their leaky defence after letting in eight tries against the All Blacks in Albany, but also their inability to score a point in the game.
The three wide men, Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule, have copped the most criticism after slipping several tackles and faltering under the high ball.
But Smith said the Boks would welcome the Australians kicking ball onto the wing positions.
“We now see it as an opportunity; it’s not a negative anymore. If we field the high ball, it creates an opportunity for us to play from when previously all we wanted to do was make sure they (the opposition) didn’t get the ball,” said Smith.
“Now if we get it, we can play with it. We hope they give us a lot of high ball because if we manage it properly, we’ll score more tries. That is how we’re approaching things from now.”
Smith continued to speak about the Boks’ desire to get ball in hand, to carry it through the phases and take it wide so they can try score tries, something they failed to do in New Zealand last time out.
“The main thing that stands out from the New Zealand game is that while we dominated territory (63 percent in the first half) and had a good go in the first 20 minutes, we weren’t able to convert it into points.
"Then, because our set-piece wasn’t functioning, especially in the second half, we didn’t have any ball to play with. We’re a real factor with ball in hand, we’ve shown that over the course of the season, so we simply have to get our hands on the ball and look after it better.
"We’re already playing in the right side of the field and dominating territory, even against the best side in the world, but it’s important for us to now convert that into points.”
Smith added that hanging onto the ball for long periods and asking questions of the opposition would be key in the Boks “getting back onto their feet” in the coming two matches.
Asked how the team planned to do this he said: “I’ve been pretty blessed to have been involved with a few teams who’ve been in this situation before. To hit back from 50 points is actually much easier than people think... you can only improve on it.”
And how the Boks will want to do that against the Wallabies. Smith said there was a massive desire by the players to set the record straight.
“Just from one training session you can see the determination and hunger in the players. We had to rein them in, so it’s easy for us as coaches (because we don’t have to motivate them). The guys can’t wait to get out there and play.”
The Boks have a training-free day on Wednesday, with some of the players set to visit a local school, while several others and part of the coaching team will participate in a coaching seminar at Grey College.
Head coach Allister Coetzee will name his line-up for Saturday’s match on Thursday afternoon.