The British and Irish Lions’ impressive performance in the midfield made South Africa sit up and take notice, but it won’t influence the make-up of their Springboks centre pair, said Boks backline coach Dick Muir.
JJ Harmse reports for sport24.co.za that the former Sharks coach believes the current Bok midfield of Jean de Villiers and Adrian Jacobs has been regularly tested over the past season with encouraging results.
“Our midfield has been tested often and survived. The guys there are proud of their defence and it will be like that again,” said Muir.
He believes this position is one of the most competitive in the Bok group. “Our centres fight for spots and it is a huge motivation and not a problem. They have now seen what to expect.”
Muir feels the more the Lions play their combinations, the more the Boks will know about them.
“We saw some of their combinations on Wednesday (against the Golden Lions) and this is something that we were able to look at. There is much for us to see. But it is exactly what will happen. They have more time than we do, but it gives us more time to see what they do or in which direction they play and how they want to play.”
Muir said he didn’t know much about Earl Rose’s withdrawal from the Golden Lions team by Bok coach Peter de Villiers. “I don’t know exactly what happened there. The fact that he would’ve been on the bench is not right, because someone with his talent should play for 80 minutes. So I think finally it was more useful to have him practice with us.”
Muir was equally vague about his preference for flyhalf. “We have the players, it will be about the opportunity and which player is the right one for it,” he said.
The Bok forward coach, Gary Gold, was encouraged by the way in which the tame Lions were able to stop the British Lions’ ruck and maul movements. “They stopped them well, but it wasn’t necessary for the visitors to try them too much, as their backline was so much stronger and they could take that route to win the match.”
Gold doesn’t believe that running rugby would be the order of the day when the Tests begin. The first Test will be played in Durban on June 20.
“The Lions will become more conservative as the tour progresses and the Tests draw closer. They will also be toughened, as the Cheetahs, WP, Sharks and the Emerging Boks will give them more opposition. We are still looking if there are players in our group that we can free up for those matches.”
The Emerging Boks will join the Springboks on Wednesday in Durban and will train with them until Saturday, said Muir.
Muir will take charge of the Emerging Boks and hopes to give the two teams an opportunity to bond. “It gives the team a chance to get to know one another better and to understand what we want to do.”
“It’s about getting synergy, which is what the Springboks are about. We want to work with the younger upcoming players as well, because this is where you really see the potential in a player.”
Muir conveyed his regret about the injury that caused Louis Ludik to leave the game early against the touring team. “It’s too bad, because it looks like a bad knee injury. We have already lost Burton Francis to a knee injury.”Tweet