The Springboks have moved to defend under-fire tighthead prop Ruan Dreyer after his recent below-par Rugby Championship performances.
Dreyer has been criticised for giving away too many penalties. Dreyer was the most penalised prop in Super Rugby 2017 so it should come as no surprise to Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett is one of the prominent voices calling for Dreyer to be dropped.
“It’s the second match in a row that Ruan Dreyer has been penalised on the tighthead side for early engagement, shoving early before the ball was put in, and over-extending.”
“To win, you have to be absolutely flawless at the set pieces and work will have to go into the Boks’ scrummaging to stop the front row from giving away so many penalties,” Mallett told Supersport.
The options are thin for Coetzee at tighthead, with Julian Redelinghuys, Frans Malherbe and Coenie Oosthuizen all unavailable. Wilco Louw of Western Province has been called up to the squad but it appears Coetzee is showing continued faith in Dreyer.
The Boks come up against an All Blacks side yet to lose a scrum on their own feed in the last nine Tests, an incredible feat. Thus Dreyer’s task is not going to get any easier after he was already exposed against Australia a week ago and the All Blacks two weeks before that.
Although regular prop combination Joe Moody and Owen Franks are sidelined with long-term injuries for the All Blacks, Nepo Laulala and Kane Hames have proved more than able replacements while Wyatt Crockett always makes an impact off the bench.
“We do have a lot of tighthead props who are injured, but Ruan is there and he just needs some time out there,” said Coetzee.
“We still back him as a tighthead, but I just think that the picture seems to differ from referee to referee [at scrum time] … But we do know that we have to come with a better scrummaging performance against the All Blacks.”