Experienced Springbok flank Juan Smith agrees with the widely held view that the problems at the breakdown in last week’s big defeat to the All Blacks were the result of failure to commit sufficient numbers to the recycle points.
Gavin Rich writes for SuperRugby that with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers committed to a game where he wants the players to remain on their feet and operate as ball carriers, there is a growing perception that this has led to too many players standing off when a movement is held up.
And while many fingers were pointed at Schalk Burger last week, and Luke Watson in the first half of the Argentina match, Smith believes this is unfair.
“Every coach has his particular style and we are playing the way the coach wants us to play, but the breakdowns have been a big problem,” said Smith, who is one of several South African players struggling to produce the form under the new style that he did as a matter of course when Jake White was coaching.
“We run into gaps, and we have shown that we have the capability to score tries, but I feel that if we are going to win matches then we are going to have to commit players to the breakdown a lot more than we are at present.
“We have lost important possession at crucial stages of the past few games, and it has cost us. We just haven’t been at our best at the breakdown, and are going to have to be more direct and get more numbers there.”
Smith, who played his 50th test for his country at Newlands last week, agreed that there is a bit more pressure than usual building up to Saturday’s Tri-Nations showdown with Australia at Absa Stadium in Durban.
The Boks have to win to regain some of the pride lost so far in a season which reads played four and lost three against top opposition, and they have to score four tries if they are to have any chance of winning the Tri-Nations, something that should have been an expectation rather than a hope in this year where they started as world champions and the other teams are rebuilding.
“There is definitely quite a bit more pressure this week, especially after the loss last week. It is not a good experience to get no points in a game and the guys want to make up for that,” he said.
Smith finds himself in the unusual situation on Saturday of having to cover lock, with two loose-forwards finding a place on the bench in the form of Luke Watson and Joe van Niekerk.Tweet