This is what Boks need to do to beat New Zealand.
Respect, but do not
fear the All Blacks
The New Zealanders’ track record in World Cups over recent years is daunting. The Boks need to tell themselves that the Kiwis are mere mortals that have been beaten by the Boks lately.
Yes the Kiwis are good, but the scoreboard recently has highlighted that the Boks are better.
Turn their lights out
Smash to smithereens anything in black especially those with the numbers 1 to 8 on their backs. The Boks have arguably the best two packs of forwards in Japan.
Yes, two. Our forwards are exceptionally strong and the coach can interchange his packs as the game demands. The All Blacks forwards will not be able to live with the Boks up front.
into the stands
It has taken defence coach Jacques Nienaber 18 months to get the players to understand his defensive strategy. Last year we saw the back three players rushing out of line to get exploited by the English attackers but those teething problems are behind the Boks, and now they must concentrate and ensure that the All Blacks remain in front of the green and gold line and are indecisive because they know the Boks’ line speed has got them covered.
Smash them over
the advantage line
The Boks have big, tough men, lining up to crash the ball over the gain line and if they are watchful in how they go about this, momentum will soon be generated for halfbacks Faf De Klerk and Handré Pollard.
The lifeline to that momentum is the clear-out has to be neat and efficient for that ball to pop up like a cherry for Faf to pluck; the arriving forwards have to be powerful, slick and careful in their approach.
Discipline is the key
The thing with France’s Mr Bean look-alike referees is that anything can happen. Jerome Garces (tomorrow’s referee) sent off an All Black player for a shoulder charge in a recent match against the Wallabies but at the same time so much was left to go in that match.
The Boks can leave nothing to chance with these Frenchmen.
A priority has to be channelling the rampant aggression that will be coursing through their veins while keeping in line with how Mr Bean might react.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen
Dominate the set-pieces
It doesn’t matter who’ll be starting and who will be coming off the bench, the Boks have the best pack in the game and they need to make it count. Man for man, the Boks are stronger and more dynamic than their All Blacks counter-parts and to get on top, and be in charge, they need to dominate the scrums and line-outs and they can do this quite comfortably – no matter the weather conditions. A powerful scrum will lead to penalty gains, while a dominant line-out will allow the Boks to kick into the corners and set up the rolling maul.
Attack close channels
The Boks have some of the strongest and best ball-carriers in the game, men like Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kisthoff, Frans Malherbe and Malcolm Marx up front, and at the back Damian de Allende, and these men need to test the All Blacks in their 9-10 channel, phase after phase. The Boks need to pile on the pressure, and ask the All Blacks to make a lot of tackles. It’s not always pretty, but if the Boks keep probing something will have to give, and it’s here where they’ll get their momentum.
Whether it’s Faf de Klerk launching up-and-unders or Handré Pollard and Willie le Roux kicking downfield, the Boks have to kick smartly and accurately. If they go high, the chase and contest needs to be good, and if they go long they need to kick behind the wingers and into the spaces, and then pile on the pressure.
It’s all about isolating and suffocating the All Blacks at the back and trying to force turnovers in pressure situations. The Boks must also exploit Beauden Barrett playing out of position at 15.
Starve them of possession
More than any other team, the All Blacks thrive on being gifted possession and they love nothing more than counter-attacking from their own half of the field. It is in open play, with turnover ball, that the defending champions are at their most dangerous and lethal. They’ll run at the Boks when they least expect it, whether it’s a forward, in the form of Dane Coles or Kieran Read or Ardie Savea, or a back in the form of Aaron Smith, Ryan Crotty, Reece or Barrett but the Boks must deny them these opportunities by controlling possession.
No soft moments
It is the biggest game these two teams will play in their pool and the pressure will be high – and for the referee too. The Boks need to stay focused and disciplined and not give away silly penalties for unnecessary mistakes or infringements and they also need to stay calm in what should be a high-octane affair. Being reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes (or worse for a red card) will make an already big challenge that much harder.
The Boks also need to be clinical in their execution – be it passing or kicking.