for quality writing

Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: How do the Springboks beat Ireland? 0

Posted on November 08, 2017 by Ken

 

The first priority for the Springboks when they meet Ireland in Dublin on Saturday will be to defuse the Irish kicking game.

Ireland have very strong halfbacks with a very good aerial game, especially the pinpoint accuracy of Conor Murray’s box-kicks, which he is able to launch from behind the maul.

Which is why Allister Coetzee will choose such a big pack, with Pieter-Steph du Toit in the back row it means they have an extra jumper at the tail and three big lineout forwards. It is vital that the Springbok forwards get on top and make sure that the Ireland halfbacks get back-foot ball. Ross Cronje can then get after flyhalf Jonathan Sexton and the locks can look after Murray on his box-kicks.

It was interesting to see in New Zealand during the Lions tour how there was a clear plan to unsettle Murray by attacking him on the blindside and rushing on to his non-kicking foot. I don’t think the Springboks will do the same thing – the legality of the tactic is a bit dubious, but it shows that he can be unsettled.

In terms of receiving those Irish kicks, Allister Coetzee has gone for continuity all year and Dillyn Leyds and Courtnall Skosan are both good under the high ball. It’s similar to how the All Blacks go behind Aaron Smith’s kicks, but it’s not just about the way you catch those balls, it’s also about getting escorts back and making it difficult for the opposition to get a clear jump, and getting numbers around the first ruck.

It’s also an advantage having Andries Coetzee at fullback because Sexton is a bit different to every other international kicker in that he is prepared to launch lots of torpedo kicks. They are quite hard to take because they move quicker through the air and gain more distance.

The torpedo is a more high-risk kick, it requires a higher skill level and it depends on having time on the ball. The punt is safer and more accurate, which is why most kicking coaches favour it. But Sexton’s kicking coach is Dave Alred, who worked with the Springboks in 2014 for two weeks, and he is a big advocate of the torpedo kick.

But because Coetzee is left-footed and both Irish halfbacks are right-footed, they will be kicking into his strength and he can also do the torpedo kick.

Otherwise the Springboks should just continue in the same vein as they ended the Rugby Championship: a good set-piece, a strong maul, good defence, getting their ball-carriers over the gain-line and dominating the collisions.

The other key for South Africa is to defuse Ireland’s ball-carriers on the gain-line. It will be interesting to see CJ Stander starting in his adopted country against the Springboks and whether they are able to put him on the back foot because Ireland get a lot of momentum and base a lot of attacking play off his carries. I’m sure he will be very motivated to right the wrong of the Cape Town Test last year when he got a red card. Francois Louw and Siya Kolisi against Stander is going to be a revealing battle.

In 2012, Heyneke Meyer picked a lot of apprentice Springboks in his first Test squad and Stander and Kolisi were both in that wider group. They are both world-class performers and it will be a great contest.

Allister Coetzee will maybe start Handre Pollard at flyhalf, but there is a little problem in that position because neither he nor Elton Jantjies have played a live, competitive game since the All Blacks match a month ago in Cape Town, which is a small disadvantage.

Even though Pollard has been training a lot, he hasn’t started a game for a long time. But if they feel he is the right guy going forward, and you do get different things from him, then they should choose him sooner rather than later.

Pollard is a lot faster to the gain-line, he’s a threat with ball-in-hand and has a great show-and-go. He has the ability to beat defenders off front-foot ball, whereas Jantjies is more of a distributor.

I’m also looking forward to seeing Damian de Allende get a start at inside centre. He has been picked in front of Francois Venter, who has been playing more at outside centre, all year, he has size and good feet and is a fantastic distributor. De Allende had a stellar year in 2015 but has not quite hit the same levels since then, so hopefully he will now get a good run of Tests. The Springboks generally favour having a ball-carrying, gain-line dominator at 12.

Otherwise Allister Coetzee will probably reward the guys who played quite well against New Zealand in the last Test, you have to show faith as a coach; Heyneke Meyer always said loyalty to performance was important.

It will be interesting to see how Malcolm Marx does starting a Test overseas after his world-class performance at Newlands, can he maintain that consistency?

That applies to Steven Kitshoff too and with Wilco Louw coming through, the props can rotate. The stronger scrummagers should start and establish dominance, and then the more mobile props can come on and ram home the advantage.

Matt Proudfoot has done a great job establishing six good front row forwards and in the World Cup year, Vincent Koch will come into the mix as well. Plus there’s Frans Malherbe and Trevor Nyakane, so there should be plenty of props going into 2019. It will be a nice selection headache to have.

Ireland have a strong front row, though, with Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath, so the scrum battle will obviously be worth watching.

The Springboks need a good start in this European tour, winning the first two games is important.

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

Tin that Irish brilliance 0

Posted on January 12, 2012 by Ken

by Ken Borland 12 January 2012, 17:06

 

It may or may not be true that one can buy tins of Irish golfing brilliance in your local pro shop, but Damian McGrane kept the green, white and orange flag at the top of the leaderboard at the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Thursday.

Irish golf is enjoying a phenomenal time of it on the various professional tours around the world and McGrane continued the trend on Thursday with a tremendous round of eight-under-par 63 to take him to the top of the leaderboard before a thunderstorm brought a halt to play.

“It’s been quite incredible the last three or four years for a small nation to have such great results and we do feed off each other a bit. When I won in China in 2008, Darren Clarke won the following week and Peter Lawrie the week after that. Every so often we have our good spells and I wouldn’t mine getting another one started here,” McGrane said after his great round.

To shoot seven birdies and an eagle and just one bogey (on the last hole!), McGrane obviously adhered to the theory that the most important way around the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington course is to keep your ball in play.

“I played beautifully, from start to finish. The West Course does give up opportunities to score and tomorrow will obviously be more difficult on the East Course. But the course is perfect, the weather was perfect and I made a few putts. <\p>

“I was able to stack up the birdies and chipped in for eagle on 15, which was a nice bonus. But the wetness of the course means there’s no run out there, the course is playing very long. I made use of every club in the bag and it was just about making the best of the situation. I hit every fairway, except for the last, which led to a bogey, which was disappointing,” McGrane said.

The 40-year-old is trying to recapture the heights of 2010, when he finished 41st on the European Tour Order of Merit, with a runner-up finish and five other top-10s, having endured a disappointing 2011. McGrane only finished 115th in the Race to Dubai and has failed to make a cut since the Castello Masters on April 23.

Barring a catastrophe on the East Course on Friday, McGrane will be in the money this weekend, trying to hold off the challenge of South African Desvonde Botes on seven-under, and the group on six-under comprising Joel Sjoholm, David Drysdale, George Coetzee, George Murray, Carlos del Moral, Shaun Norris and Jamie Elson.



↑ Top