Baabaas will give coach the chance to evaluate players at start of tour
Matches against the Barbarians are seldom more than end-of-season festivals designed to earn some money for the famous old club and the country they are playing against.
But today’s clash between the Springboks and the Barbarians at Wembley (3pm SA time)‚ coming as it does as the first match of the current tour‚ has added significance for the tourists.
It’s a chance to test some individual players‚ the halfback combination in particular‚ with an eye to more important matches ahead.
Coach Allister Coetzee won’t find all his answers against the Baabaas because most of his players will return to South Africa‚ but he might find one or two important solutions to pressing issues.
The halfbacks of scrumhalf Rudy Paige and Pat Lambie are part of the entire tour‚ which includes tests against England‚ Italy and Wales on successive weekends.
How they fare as a combination‚ Lambie in particular‚ dictates the match in what are expected to be slippery and difficult conditions. It’s also vital data for tougher assignments to come.
If they come through with polished displays the pair should start against England at Twickenham next week and will be better for their outing.
Tactical kicking is a huge attacking weapon if employed correctly and Lambie‚ who also captains the Boks at Wembley‚ says he believes it’s an area of the game where the team will demonstrate improvement.
“With all respect to the Barbarians‚ we are looking at this game as an opportunity to put a few systems and structures in place‚” Lambie said.
“We are looking ahead to that next game against England. It would be naive not to.
“We don’t want to defend for the sake of defending; we want to get the ball back. Our kicking is another weapon and it must be used to create more attacking opportunities. There has been a shift in mind set.
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