BLOEOMFONTEIN - Allister Coetzee has called on the Springbok back division to “man up” against the Wallabies when the teams clash in a Rugby Championship Test here on Saturday (kick-off 5pm).
The Boks are coming off letting in eight tries in a 57-0 hiding by the All Blacks, a result that left South African rugby fans fuming. Coetzee has copped plenty of the blame, but so have his players, chief among them wing Raymond Rhule, who missed nine tackles as the New Zealanders ran riot in Albany.
In the wake of that defeat, Coetzee has posted Rhule and brought in Dillyn Leyds, a player he believes has all the attributes to star at Test level. Saturday’s Test will be Leyds’ first start in the green and gold after playing three times off the bench.
“He’s a hard-working winger and he’s got a special awareness because he’s played at fullback as well,” gushed Coetzee about his team’s new right wing. “He’s got a good feel for space, he’s got a big right boot and he understands what’s needed in defence.
“The Wallabies with their hard-running backs, which is one of their big strengths, will come at us ... and we’re going to have to man up against them,” said Coetzee.
The Bok boss added Rhule, who’ll run out for the Cheetahs in the Pro14 on Friday night, had to work on his defensive game. “I haven’t discarded Raymond ... he ticks a lot of boxes, like his kick-chase and his cross-field cover is also good, but the reality is he must work on his defence, it’s no secret.
"He’ll get to do that in a game where there are 15 versus 15 and when he’s under pressure to make decisions; it’s not the same doing it against tackle bags.
“This is an opportunity for me to see what Dillyn can do. He’s been knocking on the door and playing consistently well. Raymond will join up with us again on Sunday.”
The Boks go into the game under heaps of pressure after their winless trip to Australasia and with the All Blacks waiting for them in Cape Town next week. Coetzee intimated that winning against the Wallabies was not the be-all and end-all.
“Every Test is massively important, results are massively important, but our process is to learn and improve. The results will come when we do the basics right under pressure,” said Coetzee.
“The pressures are different every week ... last time out (in Albany against the All Blacks) was a learning experience for us and we hope to be more accurate in our execution this week, to do our talking on the field.
“Although it is important to win, we’re not outcomes-driven. We won’t play out of fear for losing and winning. But we certainly want to turn things around this week.”
Also back in the mix for Saturday's game are scrumhalf Ross Cronje and flank Francois Louw, who starts for the Boks for the first time this year after missing out through injury until now. Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is also back in the Bok squad for the first time since 2013.
“It’s brilliant to have Ross back, he’s a class player who you only miss when he’s not there,” said the Bok boss. “And Chiliboy has been sitting in the wings, waiting for his chance.
“He’s got a lot of experience and we’re going to need him to come on and close out the game for us at hooker. You really want to finish as well as you start in the set-pieces and Chili is excellent in the set-pieces.”
Springbok team (15-1): Andries Coetzee, Dillyn Leyds, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Uzair Cassiem, Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth (capt), Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira; Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jean-Luc du Preez, Rudy Paige, Handré Pollard, Damian de Allende.