Saturday , February 27 2021

Rassie on box-kick: Springbok might get a little thin and play within ourselves

While playing on instructions from Rassie Erasmus, Bokscrumhalf Faf de Klerk left the box shooter against France. Photo: Gavin Barker / BackpagePix

The almost endless boxing kickers who would have frustrated Springbok fans against France could be a tactic that will be buried somewhat against Scotland on Saturday.

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk's default setting at Stade de France was to roll the ball with the foot on the back of the rucket, wait for its "blockers" to protect him and then perform a mechanical boxing park that rarely had enough height and was sometimes too far to be effective.

While some coaches may be for these tactics, De Klerk is not known for its tactical kicking either – which makes the trick even more puzzling, especially when you have a devastating backward three of Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi hungry for the ball.

Book coach Rassie Erasmus believes in applying pressure to European team in the Northern Hemisphere in that way, but even suggested that it was excessive on the weekend in the final throttle 29-26 victory.

The few times the ball went wide, the South Africans looked dangerous with a ball in hand, and they should have had two more tries to Cheslin Kolbe and Dyantyi – both of them excluded for a knock-on and forward pass respectively.

Now it appears that Erasmus may give its three-quarters more license to thrill at Murrayfield on Saturday.

"I thought we created chances against England and did not finish the opportunities," said the coach when asked about the tactical relationship between kicking and attacking France.

"We were not good at decision-making (against France) – the balance between when we run, when we're going to do the boxing park or some kick …

"Maybe because of the pressure and the weather, and lost the previous two matches, maybe we got some tunnel vision and played a little bit within ourselves.

"So I have no doubt they will be spot-on (against Scotland)."

A clear evening is forecast for Edinburgh on Saturday for what will be a 7.20pm SA kickoff, and Erasmus is also waiting for an approach from Scotland.

"I've coached Gregor (Townsend, Scotland's coach) for Munster against Glasgow four times in a season. So I know how he practices, and his coaching style, says the former Book Solver.

"It's definitely an appropriate team, a well-organized team that can really test you in all aspects of the game. I know it will be tough.

"They are very much a Super Rugby, Southern Hemisphere style plays. It seems to get pretty dry on Saturday. They play tactically really well, but they are not afraid to attack anywhere.

"And that's how Gregor is practicing. It will be completely different from the challenges in England and France."

Erasmus will name his team on Thursday and will make at least one forced change since De Klerk has returned to his English club sales this week.

Warren Whiteley is also a hesitant starter due to a light problem, while Eben Etzebeth fits again after recovering from a foot injury.

Erasmus added that he was looking for "giving some guys a chance", but that it was a balanced act between it and not losing momentum from France.

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