Springboks must make changes
It’s been almost a week since the Bokke drew with Argentina in what must go down as one of their performances in recent history.
There has been enough time to get over it. What is clear though is that the Bokke need to adapt or die if they intend hanging with the All Blacks this year.
Some adjustments will require a complete change in mindset.
Abandon the kick-and-chase game plan and move to a more attacking, “play what’s in front of you” mindset. This will take some time though.
There are other changes that can be made in the short term to turn things around. Not enough to take the tournament from New Zealand but it could be enough maybe to beat Australia.
The fist change is in personnel.
I think bringing Francois Louw back into the squad was a good move. He’s the complete package. Most importantly, he is a very good breakdown player – something the South Africa pack has been missing since Bismarck Du Plessis’ injury.
I would bring him straight into the starting back-row tro, alongside Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen. This may be a harsh call on Marcell Coetzee, who has been excellent, but Louw-Alberts-Vermeuelen is a better balanced selection.
The next change would be to bring Ruan Pienaar into the starting line-up. He’s in better form that Francois Hougaard at the moment and gives South Africa a backup kicker if Morne Steyn has another bad day at the office. Playing Hougaard on the wing is also an option as he’s an excellent runner with the ball, but I’m afraid of the damage that would do to his long term development as a scrumhalf.
Steyn he’s clearly been struggling with form. One option would be to pick Lambie at 10, but he hasn’t played must recently. What game time he has is at fullback. So I don’t think it would be wise to just throw him in there, despite Morne’s lack of form.
A better option would perhaps be to pick him at 15 and allow him to come into first receiver at times. Then move him to 10 after a few games if he shows good form.
A tactical adjustment needed is to get the forwards out of first receiver and have Morne or Lambie in there for all balls going to the backline. Any forwards in the backline need to play off them.
More attention needs to be given to rucking and counter-rucking. Invite someone from outside the current coaching staff if necessary, but this is an area that needs attention and can possibly be improved with simple technique adjustments.
Like I said earlier, there are bigger changes to be made; changes in mindset that will take some time. But I believe the Bokke can improve significantly if they make a few tweaks in personnel and approach. This will bring immediate improvement.
My Springbok team for the test against Australia:
15: Pat Lambie
14: Bryan Habana
13: De Villiers
12: Francois Steyn
11: Lwazi Mvovo / Francois Hougaard
10: Morne Steyn
9. Ruan Pienaar
8. Duane Vermeulen
7. Wilhelm Alberts
6. Francois Louw
5. Andries Bekker
4. Eben Etzebeth
3. Dannie Du Plessis
2. Adriaan Strauss
1. Tendai Mtawarira
16. Tiaan Liebenberg
17. Pat Cilliers
18. Juandre Kruger
19. Marcel Coetzee
20. Francois Hougaard / Lwazi Mvovu
21. Juan De Jongh
22. Zane Kirchner
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