South Africa’s Springboks seek tactical improvements ahead of  crucial Ireland rematch clash


As the Springboks prepare for their second Test in the Castle Incoming Series against Ireland, the focus is on refining their execution and enhancing their resourcefulness.

Following a hard-fought 27-20 victory at Loftus Versfeld, the Rugby World Cup champions are keen to build on their success as they face the world’s second-highest ranked team at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

Springbok assistant coach Tony Brown, who took on the role of attack coach this season, emphasized the need for improved execution. “There were some really good signs with the way we spread the ball wide early on, but we need to be more clinical in the next game,” Brown stated.

“We had a few chances, but we didn’t execute as well as we would have liked to, so that is one of the things we need to improve on this week. That said, the more the guys play, the better they will be, so hopefully, that will improve with time.”

Brown, who succeeded Felix Jones following his departure to England after the Rugby World Cup in France, noted that while the team created opportunities, their inability to capitalize on them had a significant impact on the scoreboard.

The emphasis this week has been on converting these chances into points, ensuring that the Springboks can fully exploit their attacking potential.

Another crucial area identified by Brown is the breakdowns. The previous encounter against Ireland was fiercely contested in this department, and Brown expects another tough battle.

“Both teams worked really hard at the breakdowns, and we know the battle will be fierce again there this week. We need to be strong defensively in that area because the better the quality of the ball we get, the more effective we can be on attack.”

Brown, who played for the Hollywoodbets Sharks in 2006 before moving to the DHL Stormers, expressed his personal excitement about returning to Durban. “I loved my time here and enjoyed both teams I played for in South Africa,” said the New Zealand-born former All Black flyhalf.

“Being back in Durban feels like coming home, so we are excited to be here and for the challenge ahead this weekend.”

The Springboks’ tactical decisions have also come under scrutiny, particularly the strategy of substituting all six replacement forwards simultaneously during the previous match. National laws advisor Jaco Peyper defended the move, stating, “According to the laws of the game, you can do it.

I wouldn’t say it’s dangerous bringing on fresh legs at the same time. Ireland also opted for six-two splits in favour of the forwards during the Six Nations, and from a player safety perspective that is controlled by World Rugby’s shape of the game which includes specific law guidelines.”

The previous victory was particularly special for replacement prop Gerhard Steenekamp, who earned his second Test cap. He played a pivotal role in the dominant scrum that secured a penalty try against Ireland.

“It was very satisfying to be part of that scrum, it’s something we’ve been working really hard on,” said Steenekamp. “And from a personal point of view, playing with such quality players certainly gets one’s confidence up.

It’s every boy’s dream who plays rugby to become a Springbok, so this is very special to me, and to be honest, it is hard to put into words what it means to be part of this squad.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming match, Steenekamp highlighted the need for technical improvements in the scrums. “There are a few technical things we have to work on in the scrums this week so we can be more effective in that department on Saturday.”

He also praised the starting forwards for their efforts, which allowed the replacements, known as the “bomb squad,” to make a significant impact in the second half. “The guys that started did really well to tire out their forwards, and it was nice that we were able to make an impact in the second half.”

Brown echoed Steenekamp’s sentiments, expressing his admiration for the scrum’s dominance. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a scrum as dominant as that one. It’s really nice to coach a team with such physicality, skill, and speed.”

The Springboks returned to the training field on Monday, determined to build on their previous performance and address the areas identified for improvement.

As they prepare for the crucial second Test, the emphasis remains on better execution and resourcefulness, with the goal of securing another victory against a formidable Irish side.

The match kicks off at 17:00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport, promising an exciting showdown at Hollywood bets Kings Park.

Source: SA RUGBY

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