Springboks / 30 September 2019, 09:30am / Wynona Louw
Springbok forward Schalk Brits says they have “strategically planned” for the seasonal changes that are expected in Japan in a few weeks’ time.
The Boks secured a 57-3 win against Namibia in their second World Cup pool game on Saturday after suffering a 23-10 defeat to New Zealand in their opener in Yokohama.
The hot and humid conditions have made for much talk ahead of and during the early stages of the tournament, and the Boks clearly struggled to maintain their grip on the ball as the African derby progressed.
While they are expecting the ball to become a bit easier to handle in the near future, Brits - who captained the team against Namibia - explained that they have trained in various ways to condition themselves.
“The longer the game goes it becomes tougher to manage. It noticeably changes. In three or four weeks’ time the weather will change as well and the locals who play here said it’s not always like this so it will be easier to handle. We’ve strategically planned for that,” Brits said.
“From a kicking perspective we play in the right parts. We’ve played with balls with soap and all kinds of things. Rassie (Erasmus) is very thorough with his planning to make sure we’re used to these conditions.
“He made sure we trained at the hottest, most humid time of the day to get used to these conditions. He wants us to acclimatise and make it as difficult as possible to handle the ball so when we’ve got those conditions we can handle that.”
Brits packed down at the back of the scrum at the weekend as Erasmus had previously said he wanted to use the hooker at No 8 at some stage during the World Cup to add another back-row option should injury occur.
The 38-year-old produced a solid outing, and overall, it was a good performance from the Bok pack, who dominated the set-piece, as expected, improved their maul and also got a couple of tries to show for it.
The Bok lineup was mostly made up of fringe players who hadn’t enjoyed much or any game time in the last few weeks (in the warm-up against Japan or against the All Blacks in their opener).
And getting back onto the playing field was both enjoyable and much-needed, according to Brits.
“I’m pushing hard for 12 really. My left foot isn’t too good, or my right foot but I can truck it up. I can’t kick it as far as Frans (Steyn). But honestly I wasn’t expecting (playing at No) 8 to run that much. It was nice to be back,” he said.
“It’s good to get a bit of match fitness back into our bones, and feet and hands You can do as much running as you can, but it doesn’t replicate playing and that’s what we found out today.”
Japan produced another major World Cup upset when they beat Ireland 19-12 to go top of Pool A on Saturday.
When asked who he thinks will do well in the first World Cup to be held in Asia, Brits said: “We knew Japan were good. When we played them (at the start of September) we were quite surprised. It was interesting the way Scotland approached the game against Ireland. Ireland look superb, but from the beginning I thought the three teams that came into the World Cup with a bit of momentum were ourselves, the All Blacks and definitely England. So far it looks similar. When I saw Ireland play Scotland I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great performance!’”