Home Sport Springboks can only level up after solid attacking display against Italy

Springboks can only level up after solid attacking display against Italy

Springboks can only level up after solid attacking display against Italy

Cape Town – It is not far-fetched to say that if the Springboks successfully defend their World Cup crown in France next year, they will look back to Genoa as the day they turned the corner.

Never again do the Boks have to solely rely on boring box kicking and set-piece domination as the only way they can win rugby games.

The nine tries they scored were beautifully crafted and then finished with deadly efficiency, and this surely has given them the confidence to take their game up a level, which they have to do because the suffocation game that worked in 2019 will not work in 2023.

I hear the pessimists saying that Italy are weak but that is nonsense. Wales, Samoa and Australia — Italy’s last three (defeated) opponents will confirm they are a team on the up, and let’s remember that the Boks were behind just after half-time before scorching home in the last half an hour.

This was a weekend of serious resolution for the Boks — on and off the field. The Rassie Erasmus soap opera has surely now run its course — SA Rugby must ban him from social media, and it is now time for Siya Kolisi and Jacques Nienaber to build strong relationships with referees.

The most successful captains in rugby history have had one thing in common — they had a disarming but convincing manner when talking to the referees. Let Siya now build up what Rassie has torn down since initially getting it right with his video after the first Test against the Lions last year.

On the field, the Boks proved in Genoa that they have the ingredients to blow away the rugby world — a menacing pack with bomb squad backup; strong and athletic loose forwards with leader Kolisi currently one of the best on the planet; a physically imposing midfield — take your pick from Andre Esterhuizen, Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am; and then a back three brimming with pace and flair.

You will notice I have not mentioned the half-backs. There remains indecision about the starting scrumhalf but I believe Faf de Klerk is the man if he is “unprogrammed” from box kicking and is allowed to play his natural attacking game.

Flyhalf is a huge one going forward. Firstly, I have a feeling Handre Pollard has been overtaken by both Damian Willemse and Manie Libbok in terms of the attack.

I like how the pressure has been taken off Willemse by the kicking duties going to Cheslin Kolbe and De Klerk, both at poles and for touch and he is growing into an accomplished attacking flyhalf.

I don’t have the answer as to whether the equally dangerous Libbok should replace him or continue as a versatile impact player.

Whichever one of them is at flyhalf, the Boks have a playmaker at 10 and also at 15 where Willie le Roux must be given the freedom to unlock space with his feel for the game and his magnificent passing skills.

I understand that not every Test match is a free-flowing spectacle but the Boks must now believe that when they have quality front foot ball, they have the playmakers and the finishers to turn it into tries.


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