DURBAN - FOR many a critic, Sunday’s Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australias boils down to Springbok defence versus Wallaby attack.
That may be a simplistic way of looking at it but it is also an accurate one given that the Aussies under coach Dave Rennie have embraced an ultra-attack game while the Boks under Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have largely kicked and tackled their way to a run of impressive trophies, with a dose of counter-attacking tries thrown in.
Siya Kolisi was asked about this clash of approaches at his captain’s press conference on the eve of the match and he did not attempt to sugarcoat the no-frills way the Boks play rugby.
“We look at it as our plan versus their plan,” Kolisi said. “We know how they play, but we are going to stick to the way we play. We don’t hide away from it, we do kick a lot of ball, and they attack with ball in hand so it’s going to boil down to that on the day.
“We trust our defence. We kick because we are not scared to tackle, so it’s all about whose plan will win the day. That’s why they call it a Test match. Who is going to best impose their plan on the other team…?”
Of course, the set-piece determines how effectively either side can implement their plan, as Kolisi pointed out.
“As always, the set-piece lays the foundation,” he said. “You can’t run away from the set-piece; it’s an important part of the game and the Aussies are good at the mauling aspect of it. They are also good at stopping opposition mauls, and they are a scrumming team, but so are we.
The Boks last won in Australia in 2013 and since 1992 have won just five matches in total on Australian soil.
“We are aware of our poor record over here and obviously we want to change that and win consistently in Australia, but it is all about this game,” Kolisi said. “You can only deal with one game at a time and that is why the process is the most important thing for us.
“It is a very important match for us… We know what Australia has done to us in the past, so we will give them the respect they deserve, but the focus is 100 percent on executing our game plan.”
Kick-off is at 12:05 on Sunday.