Home RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 Brendan Venter: All Blacks won’t disrespect Springboks a second time

Brendan Venter: All Blacks won’t disrespect Springboks a second time

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After defeat in Wellington, the All Blacks want revenge against the Springboks in Pretoria on Sunday.

OPINION: The reverse fixture between the Springboks and the All Blacks in Pretoria on Sunday (NZT)  is a mouth-watering prospect as all the interesting dynamics that make rugby a great sport are involved.

The 97th test meeting pits a growing South African team, with weaknesses, against a very strong New Zealand outfit that has definitely made mistakes within their process of preparation. By all accounts, it’s neither a flawless All Black team nor a Springbok side that is the finished product.

South Africa, a team completely on the ropes ahead of their clash with New Zealand in Wellington, have however risen from the ashes. Their performance against Australia in Port Elizabeth was by far their best of the year and it was the most accomplished under Rassie Erasmus to date.

The Wallabies brought their A game and were moving the ball from side to side but, for the first time since Jacques Nienaber took over as defence coach, it appeared as if the Springboks had the whole field covered.
South Africa’s width on defence was brilliant and one of their biggest weaknesses has effectively morphed into a strength. In my opinion, the main reason for South Africa’s turnaround on defence is down to the presence of outside centre Jesse Kriel.

During my time spent with the Springboks last season, Kriel was our best defensive outside centre by a country mile. In the mould of Bok legend Jaque Fourie, who marshalled South Africa’s defence and played 72 tests, Kriel’s communication and decision-making is on point. However, it wasn’t a one-man show against Australia. Collectively, the home team got off the line, defended with real intent and chased their kicks with brilliant intensity.

It’s just as well because the All Blacks pass the ball better than any other team in the world and their ability to get around sides is second to none. Many teams possess good passers, but what sets the All Blacks apart is that they boast forwards who also pass the ball beautifully.

Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock digest the All Blacks' defeat to a jubilant Springboks in Wellington.
GETTY IMAGES
Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock digest the All Blacks’ defeat to a jubilant Springboks in Wellington.

It’s one thing to be able to pass the ball and another to execute with speed and accuracy. The All Blacks play well when the respect their opponents. However, the moment a team disrespects the opposition they open themselves up to be beaten, which is what happened in Wellington. The All Blacks conceded two unbelievably soft intercept tries from loose passes at the Westpac Stadium due to over-confidence.

Cheslin Kolbe and his Springboks team-mates celebrate the upset over the All Blacks last month.
GETTY IMAGES
Cheslin Kolbe and his Springboks team-mates celebrate the upset over the All Blacks last month.

I know for a fact that the All Black coaches didn’t disrespect the Springboks because they rate them and would never have picked their best side if they didn’t. Sometimes what you say as a coach off the field doesn’t necessarily translate to what happens on the field. The All Black coaching staff would have told the players to respect the Springboks, but deep down they didn’t.

Consequently, the one ally the Springboks had in Wellington – the All Black players underestimating them – won’t be with them in Pretoria. The home team won’t find a lackadaisical All Blacks outfit that thinks they can chuck the ball around and break the Springboks down from everywhere.

I cannot foresee the All Blacks playing from their own try-line like the Wallabies did to their detriment in the first minute of the match in Port Elizabeth. For me, the respect factor is what is going to make the test in Pretoria different to the one in Wellington. The All Blacks have also stated this week that they want to right the wrongs of Wellington, which underlines they are as motivated as the Springboks for the match.

The Rugby Championship

Pos Team P W D L -/+ BP Pts
1 New Zealand 5 4 0 1 91 5 21
2 South Africa 5 3 0 2 8 2 14
3 Argentina 5 2 0 3 -36 0 8
4 Australia 5 1 0 4 -63 1 5

From a tactical point of view, the All Blacks will run the ball when it’s on but, without a doubt, the men in black will kick more at Loftus and look to play for territory. The All Blacks will aim to play in the right areas of the field and capitalise on their opportunities. The question is, can the Springboks live with the All Blacks if the latter side employ said game plan?

I believe the Boks are in with a good shout because the All Blacks aren’t at their sharpest at the moment. When you chop and change a team so much, not matter how good you are, you lose continuity. The All Blacks keep altering their playing personnel with the argument being they are building depth ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Centre Jesse Kriel is the key to the  Springboks' defensive revival.
GETTY IMAGES
Centre Jesse Kriel is the key to the Springboks’ defensive revival.

However, as Erasmus and Steve Hansen have seen, you cannot chop and change the team the whole time and expect clinical precision. You can talk about taking opportunities as much as you want in a team meeting, but it won’t make you capitalise on them between the four white lines. The trick is that when the same unit plays together over an extended period of time, the players develop a feel for each other, which reveals itself on the field.

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus hailed his side's defence but admitted they were
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South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus hailed his side’s defence but admitted they were “lucky” in Wellington.

Faf de Klerk’s five-pointer against Australia in Port Elizabeth was a case in point. De Klerk anticipated that Handré Pollard could cut and take out the last line and he ran off him, which created a brilliant try under the sticks. In the past, it would more than likely have been a good line break without an end product.

From now on, both coaches will most probably opt for consistency in terms of selection with next year’s Rugby World Cup in mind.

* South African Brendan Venter is a 1995 Rugby World Cup winner and a former assistant coach of the Springboks.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Eish manne!!

    I don’t know so much about this one.

    The Bokke didn’t look so brilliant to me in PE last week, unless I was watching another game.

    Jesse Kriel in his wildest ecstacy induced artificial high still will NEVER be mentioned alongside Jacques Fourie, nevermind when he is sober.

  2. ”The Wallabies brought their A game and were moving the ball from side to side”

    That’s not their ‘A’ game at all… it’s something they never do and every scribe and TA over here has been going nuts about it since.

  3. @Welshbok die Brandwag: Brendan’s brilliance together with AC brought us Albany and 57-0. So I wouldn’t take to much from what he says.

    To me Kriel makes mistakes on reading defensive situations. In NZ he was probably one of our best defenders on the field and read the situations really well. Hopefully he does the same again this week. He really did well in managing the defense in Wellington and if he is our back line defensive leader as Venter says, the a lot will depend on him this weekend.

  4. lol, the ABs are out for utu and to give Bike a thumping Tomoro, but I think Boks can upset them again. Dissapointed with a few selections but I shouldnt single them out, hope they all do well and play hard for 80′.

  5. @Aldo: yeah, I am no fan of Jesse – with his pathetic high 5s and inability to keep his socks up. But he really improved the last few games. So much so that I am more than comfortable to have him on outside centre, wing or fullback. Maybe I need to cut down on the brannas…

  6. @Bekke:

    Yes you do lol… I still maintain Kriel’s best possie (in a perfect world with no pencil tests) would be as 13/14/15 cover. I have to give the guy some kudos though… his ‘adjusting’ to certain defensive deficiencies on the fly have saved both the AB and AUS wins…

  7. @Bekke: what is up with the socks think. DDA’s socks start ons his ankles. It is a pet hate of mine. Hf the professional player have their socks on their ankles. Have they got no self respect.

    Anyway, Kriel has somehow managed a couple of good defensive saves over the last 2 games. Long may it continue.

  8. @Aldo:
    Respectfully disagree Aldo.
    I think the ankle squished height is a signal of PRO-Rugby Union.
    Socks worn at such height show the casual viewer – at a glance – that he’s not hiding any soccer shin guards.

  9. What? Dawie is back from his ‘fishing trip’ ?

    I mean it took Brycie a couple of days to get over a bokke win, but it’s taken ou baas a couple of weeks now…

  10. @Americano: how difficult can it be to pull up your socks and keep them there. I’m lucky, due to cycling I’ve always had big calves. But still, a piece of string under the knee and your sorted.

  11. @Aldo:

    The legend got banned from FB and then went into self-exile… miss the acerbic bastard…

    @Aldo:

    Hahaha twas a guess… but there is no way Bekke would admit to all the ‘soggy Marie’ he endured…

    @cab:

    Hehe I rue the fact I missed a historical game… bucket-list fishing trip and all…

  12. @bryce_in_oz: hehe – no boarding school, but small, strict Afrikaans school. Where you will be caned first thing Monday morning if your rugby socks for first team, was not secure for the entire game. Just one of those things – showed that you respected the jersey, and that you are not one of those communist trying to overthrow the government…

  13. @Bekke:

    Hahahaha… well we did have ‘library fines Wednesday’ in our Soutie schools… the HOD’s of every standard kept their swinging arms fit…

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