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Ken Borland

Stick: Springboks inspired by the past, both their’s and Wales’ 0

Posted on August 15, 2022 by Ken

Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the Springboks will be inspired by the past – both their’s and that of Wales – when the two nations of great rugby tradition meet in the first Test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.

For the Springboks, with their eyes on defending their World Cup crown next year, they are repeating some of the rebuilding process they did in 2018, a year before their incredible heroics in the global showpiece in Japan.

But they also know how Wales are feeling as their current situation is a bit like South Africa’s in 2018. Stick had already been with the Springboks as a backline coach under Allister Coetzee, but when the team endured a 33% win-rate in 2016, he was made a scapegoat and axed.

One of Rassie Erasmus’s first acts as director of rugby in 2018 was to reappoint the former Sevens star to the Springboks and put him in charge of attack and skills.

“We can compare this time to 2018, when Rassie and Jacques Nienaber came back and we started building for the 2019 World Cup,” Stick said at the Springboks’ Montecasino hotel on Friday.

“It’s similar now because we again have a lot of young faces and we want them to learn from the senior guys while we are still winning. It’s very important to build in the right space and that is a winning environment.

“But we’ve been No.7 in the world too, so we know how Wales are feeling at No.9. But we knew that if we could beat the All Blacks in 2018 then there would be a lot of forgiveness, even though we only had a 50% win record overall.

“It let us breathe a bit. We were desperate and we know very well that Wales will be too and they will come hard at us. They are stubborn and will not go away,” Stick said.

Since losing 20-11 to Wales in Cardiff in November 2018, the Springboks knocked the Red Dragons over 19-16 in their World Cup semi-final in October 2019 and then beat them 23-18 on their 2021 end-of-year tour.

Elton Jantjies slotted an 80th-minute penalty that day to seal the victory and this time the Springboks are relying on the 31-year-old flyhalf to start the game rather than be the finisher.

“Elton is one of the key players in our system, he’s been with us for years,” Stick said. “Handre Pollard just joined us on Sunday, while Elton has trained with us for three weeks.

“There have been a couple of new things we have introduced in terms of how we want to play, especially in attack and our kicking game, and Elton has had more training of that on the field.

“There’s no first or second choice for us at flyhalf, they are both key for us at any given time. We know Elton is always ready and we can pick him without hesitation because he trains very hard and is very professional.

“In terms of match fitness, both of them have about 100 minutes of rugby under their belts. Elton also has leadership skills at No.10, he was one of the key leaders for the Lions when they played in three Super Rugby finals,” Stick pointed out.

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