Springbok assistant coach Gary Gold has said that South Africa, regarded as a better balanced team than the one that won the 2007 World Cup, will produce a “pragmatic” game when they tackle the British and Irish Lions in the crucial first Test in Durban on Saturday.
Jan de Koning reports for Rugby365.
Speaking to a media contingent in Durban on Thursday, Gold dismissed the suggestion that the Boks would be “underdone”, because they haven’t played together as a unit this year.
He also said that the Boks’ game plan hasn’t changed a lot over the last few years.
“It is just at times we execute it better than other times,” he said, when asked what type of game the Boks will need to beat the B&I Lions.
“The word I can use best is that we are going to play pragmatic rugby,” Gold said, adding: “I think we are going to have a game plan based around good decision making at right time and seeing where the opportunities are.
“We have analysed them and we believe we know how they want to play, and that is very much based on what their coaches’ strengths are. They [the coaches] want to play a very similar pattern and it is very unlikely they are going to go away from that and we realise what the challenge is that lays ahead of us and how we need to play against them .”
The Bok forward coach said that on the evidence of the six games on tour the Lions are going to play a “very strong territorially-based game”.
But felt the Boks have the man-power to match that.
“We’ve got a team that boasts over 700 Test caps. What impresses me of this team is the strength or the camaraderie of the guys – they know each other very well and they’ve played together now coming up to six years,” Gold said, adding that head coach Peter de Villiers deserves credit in terms of his consistency of selections.
“One thing we rely on heavily is that the combinations play together so often and they are confident with each other and we are growing.
“I honestly believe we are getting better as a squad.”
Gold was very dismissive of the suggestion that the Boks will “underdone”, a topic that has come up often in recent weeks – with the suggestion that the Boks’ lack of match practice could put them at a disadvantage against a Lions squad that has had the benefit of playing six matches in the lead up to the first Test.
Gold said it was no different than last year before the Test series against Wales in 2008.
“This time last year we came together before we played Wales after finishing the Super 14 and we didn’t have Super 14 champions in our team at the time – now we do. Most of the guys have played 13 grueling weeks of Super 14 and some have played 15 weeks. I don’t think we are short of game time at all,” he said.
“It is interesting that this underdone tag is being thrown around about us when 12 months ago Wales came here and told us how tired they were after having a very long season back home and now they have played six extra games on tour.
“I would much rather be in the position where we are now than if we had played three or four games and picked up three or four key injuries,” he said.Tweet