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Coetzee : Lions game won’t work for Springboks

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Springbok head coach Allister Coetzee has praised the Lions for reaching the Super Rugby final but says he does not believe their game plan will guarantee success in the Test arena.

Three years ago the Lions were relegated from Super Rugby as they finished last in the standings for South African teams but have had a fairytale season which culminates in their first-ever final in Wellington on Saturday.

Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has instilled the culture in his players and structures at the union, which enable them to play fearless, winning rugby that other South African franchises have struggled to emulate.

Many have cited the earlier influences of New Zealanders John Mitchell and Carlos Spencer at the union, in the build-up to the Lions’ current vein of sublime form.

While that may be the case, it is Ackermann – and his coaching assistants – who put together the building blocks and ticked all the right boxes to produce the finished product.

It is exactly this finished product that ardent and demanding SA rugby fans want Coetzee to take advantage of in the Springbok set-up. But it’s not as simple as that. The pressure and intensity, for example, is at another level when comparing Test rugby to Super Rugby.

“I’d like to congratulate the Lions on their brilliant achievement this year,” said Coetzee.

“It’s been a massive effort on their part. I wish them well for Saturday’s final against the Hurricanes. It’s important for South Africa because their success spills over into the Bok camp, and we’ve had that happening in the past when the Bulls were the Super Rugby champions.

“The Lions have played with confidence and have played outstanding rugby throughout the competition this year.”

“I’m crossing fingers that they can go all the way because it would be a huge boost for the Springboks camp if they win.”

But while Coetzee sang the praises of the Lions, he remained all too aware of falling into the trap of depending too heavily on the success of the Lions, hoping it will translate to the green and gold.

“I can’t just copy the Lions because it won’t be 15 Lions players in Springbok jerseys. There could be a number of Lions in the team but it’s a completely different culture at the Springboks,” he said.

“Opponents will be studying how to beat the Springboks not how to beat the Lions. We saw how well the Irish were prepared against us. ”

Coetzee however, did hark back to 2007 when he was a coaching assistant to the Jake White-coached Springboks who won the Rugby World Cup in France that year.

“In 2007 I was part of the Springbok management when the Bulls won Super Rugby and it played a massive role in our campaign.”

The Lions this year have managed to beat a number of New Zealand Super Rugby sides, not least of all the Crusaders in the quarterfinal and the Highlanders in the semis – a mental shift that would do wonders for the Springboks’ Rugby Championship campaign.

“The Lions performances do give us as Springboks confidence ” said Coetzee.

“The main factor in the Lions’ success is that they have been playing with confidence and because of that the players generally make good decisions.”

“Test match rugby is a little different and far more structured. There won’t be two tight forwards defending the channel out wide which is what happened in the semifinal last Saturday that allowed the Lions to break from deep and score.

“But those players still had to make good decisions and I want to see that with the Springboks at Test level.”

African News Agency

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6 Comments

  1. Gordon Moulden

    3rd August 2016 at 7:06 pm

    The Lions excel at open play, which puts teams under pressure, at any level. Excelling at set pieces will not succeed without the ability to shine in open play, especially against southern hemisphere teams.

    • Marcus

      5th August 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Actually, super rugby is significantly beneath test rugby. The fight for the breakdown is very weak in comparison to test and NHS rugby, set pieces are very substandard right across the board, line integrity seems to be an after thought. The Lions brand will not work at test rugby because the very tenets of that style are easily stopped at the source. Even the Wallabies who have badly superior attacking players to anything SA have right now – we have zero test quality centres for a start – cannot play that style without becoming too lateral. It gets even worse when you are beaten at the breakdown and set pieces. The problem is that Saffers don’t understand modern rugby, they don’t understanding how attacking plays and patterns work, they don’t know the real value of the players available not their pros and cons. Furthermore they don’t know a single thing about how New Zealand or Australia play. They want to imitate NZ but demand the selection of a lock that is as mobile as a totem pole and hail the failure player of the year? A lock that would never be selected by NZ because he cannot handle the ball and is immobile. Or the constant selection of centres with no distribution skills. But if they run and feel happy when doing so they have “x factor”. The Lions game was based on mobility because they don’t have a big pack, it works in super rugby because they don’t have to face a force defence or fight for the ball. As we have seen at international level even a 3rd tier nation could make NZs attack completely stall because they killed it at the source. Cheika was sweeped by England because of his stubborn refusal to deviate from his 1 3 3 1 system. The lessons are there to be learned, but undoubtedly in typical South African tradition at have to be dragged half way to hell before somebody learns the obvious! 

  2. Johann Fenske

    4th August 2016 at 12:00 pm

    This is worrying to hear from the new Bok coach. Its been clear for some time now that things need to change in terms of how the boks play. Either he’s too proud to adopt this exciting style or he thinks he can do better….which I doubt. The rugby champs will reveal alot.

  3. Tim Johnson

    4th August 2016 at 9:40 pm

    That is precisely why he should not be coaching the boks. His coaching style at the Stormers never produced any trophies against other super rugby sides. It was bash it up, dumb rugby. That is why an Irish B side almost beat the Boks. We need to move the ball just like the Lions do.

  4. Roy

    5th August 2016 at 6:29 am

    Another Wally who can’t & won’t accept that a change in mind set is definitely needed & success normally favours the adventurous & not die poopall what stilstaan.

  5. Melt

    6th August 2016 at 8:49 am

    I agree and I would love I mean absolutely love to see the mighty Lions vs the Springboks. Show Allister Coetzee what confidence can do and also show him some real quality running high paced rugby

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