Aussies get warning on tough hits

Boks in ‘wrecking-ball’ tactics plan for test

MARCEL COETZEE
MARCEL COETZEE

MARCELL Coetzee’s vicious hit on New Zealander Jordan Taufua has come to symbolise the kind of “wrecking-ball” tackling the Springboks want to employ against the Wallabies in Brisbane this Saturday.

Last weekend, the Sharks hitman, playing at blindside flank for the World XV, zeroed in on his target and smashed him, ball and all, into the cold hard turf.

The warning Coetzee sent at Newlands in the 46-10 win over Robbie Deans’s composite side was reiterated by defence coach John McFarland.

He said that should Quade Cooper, Matt Giteau and company try their fancy offloads, they would meet stern resistance.

“That hit on Taufua by Marcell was awesome – the timing, the way he got his shoulder in – and it drew gasps from the crowd,” McFarland said.

“But every player has his role within the defensive system and every defensive system has its strengths and weaknesses.

“The biggest thing is that you want to stop the ball in the tackle. The offload is the hardest thing to defend because if you concede an offload, 90% of the time you are going to concede a linebreak.

“It is vital that the quality of the tackle is good, you knock the guy back so that he can’t offload and the outside defender covers the offload receiver as well.”

McFarland said the try the Springboks conceded was “a ball that bobbled through a lineout. There were very few line-breaks against us.”

The Boks scored enough tries to deflect attention away from their defence but McFarland was keeping a close watch on areas where teams might find leaks.

There weren’t many but the World Cup is still a while away.

For coach Heyneke Meyer’s counter-offensive style to continue thriving, the Boks have to force the Wallabies into mistakes, like they did two years ago for a historic 38-12 win.

At the Suncorp Stadium this weekend, turnovers will again be the source of Willie le Roux’s verve for exploiting space.

“Turnover ball is the Holy Grail as 50% of your tries come from turnovers,” McFarland said. “It is about forcing the opposition to concede them and not giving any away.

“The key is, when you get that turnover ball you get an unstructured defence in front of you. Then you move the ball to where the space is and take advantage.

“Two years ago here we forced them into committing errors.

“We’ve been exceptional defensively in the northern hemisphere over the last three years too – we’ve only conceded seven tries in 10 matches.

“And we’ve been very successful in terms of results. We’ve had two unbeaten tours in that time but Ireland and Wales defeats last year were a wake-up call.”

Talk in Brisbane is that Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika is keen to start Giteau at inside centre, to see if he’s still got the magic after four years in the wilderness.

In the past, the diminutive playmaker often found ways to nutmeg the Boks on occasions such as these but coming back from France to play for a more defensively aware coach could prove an adjustment.

– Sbu Mjikeliso

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