Time for Bok coach to try a new approach

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Throw in other terms such as ‘physical challenge’ and the ‘set-piece battle’, ‘scoreboard pressure’ and ‘go through the processes’, and you get the picture.

It’s as if the Springboks are going to war in every match. But isn’t that kind of mindset the real problem with Coetzee and his Boks?

It’s always about the defence, or the kicking game. Any attempts to bring up the Bok attack with Coetzee is invariably shot down, almost as if attack is a swear word in South African rugby.

But last week’s game against Italy wasn’t even worthy of attaching the war terms to. This was a young Azzurri outfit with a lot of inexperienced players, and a head coach in Conor O’Shea who was in charge for just his second game. SA Super Rugby sides, such as the Lions, Stormers, Sharks and Bulls - even the Cheetahs - would beat them.

Yet, the Boks lost. And one of the major reasons for that was the team that was selected. The Italy Test was supposed to be the game to try out the likes of Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lionel Mapoe as a centre pair, see if Ruan Combrinck can handle fullback, let Uzair Cassiem loose, give Bongi Mbonambi that much-awaited start. Instead, Coetzee opted to stick with the same team that lost to England, and a shock 20-18 defeat was the result.

The Bok coach simply has to roll the dice in what could be his last Test in charge when he names his team today for the game against Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Get rid of that siege mentality and do something new.

Even if Coetzee was to be fired in the coming weeks, the Welsh Test is an ideal opportunity to give some of the fringe players a chance to prove their worth. Someone like Cassiem has been outstanding this season. He is a forceful ball-carrier, is a workhorse on defence and has some sublime skilful touches. And he can steal turnovers at the breakdown.

Fullback has been a problem area all year. Why not find out if Combrinck can be the answer? Janse van Rensburg’s case has been well documented this season, and the fact that he excelled in the Barbarians game makes his absence even more baffling.

Adriaan Strauss is retiring from Test rugby on Saturday, making his continuous selection difficult to fathom. Give Mbonambi a go, and let Bryan Habana step up as the captain as he is the current deputy to Strauss, has played in 125 Tests and is still performing.

And while Coetzee has been raving about the Bok scrums and line-outs, he seemed to have forgotten about the breakdowns. The tight-five are not cleaning out rucks like they are supposed to, with Tendai Mtawarira, Vincent Koch and Lood de Jager often waiting to carry the ball in the backline.

Rather go for Lourens Adriaanse and Franco Mostert. They are not the flashy types - they get stuck in and do the hard yards so that the real ‘show ponies’ like the loose forwards and backs can do their thing. If that happens, we might just see Habana get the ball on attack more than once in a game.

The Star

Original source: Time for Bok coach to try a new approach

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