Boks need to turn things around

Written by Chris Smith (ChrisS)

Posted in :All Blacks, Argentina, Original Content, Springboks, Wallabies on 28 Aug 2018 at 08:08
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

After the upset in Argentina over the weekend, it’s clear to see that the Boks have to turn things around…and in a hurry! Our team lacks balance in the loose trio, our defence is suspect and the backs lack creativity.

Let’s deal with the loose trio first:

Siya Kolisi is not an openside flank…but he’s also not a blindside flank. What do we do with him? He is, after all, the captain. Unfortunately, much as I like him as a person and a player, he isn’t the best in either position and can’t continue to start. An openside flank needs to be a menace at the breakdown, pilfering opposition ball (think Pocock), or at the very least slowing it down so that the defence has time to reorganise (neither Louw nor Kolisi did this against Argentina and they developed incredibly quick ball around the rucks). A blindside flank needs to generate go-forward for his team on at least 80% of his carries and Kolisi didn’t fulfil this role either. He is more a swift-stepper (the same as Whiteley) and, although he got some good breaks, he didn’t get the Boks over the advantage line enough. The other role of a blindside flank (think Squires, Jerry Collins, Juan Smith, Willem Alberts, Owen Finegan) is to smash opponents back in the tackle and kill the opposition’s momentum and create the opportunity for a turnover. Kolisi also fails in this role as, while he’s an excellent tackler, he’s not a dominant tackler! The only realistic option is to play him at 8 but that depends on his skillset and willingness to adapt to the new position.

Francois Louw failed to dominate the rucks and act as an effective “fetcher” flank. In combination with Kolisi and Whiteley, our loose trio lacks a killer instinct and the necessary “mongrel” to dominate their opponents. In an ideal situation, I’d like to see a loose trio (if they’re all available) of Marcell Coetzee, Heinrich Brussow and Duane Vermeulen. I feel that this would be more menacing in terms of defence, turnover-creation (all three can fetch) and ball-carrying ability. It would also add some “mongrel” to the pack.

The second aspect that I want to touch on is the defence:

We allowed the Argentinians to offload the ball repeatedly which generated incredible attacking momentum for them. Strangely enough, this aspect of our game, so noticeable against England, was missing on Saturday and we were reduced to hitting the ball up. We managed offloads a few times but not as many as in previous games. We need to find a way to counter this or the All Blacks and Wallabies will have a field day against us! Options are smother tackles or running defensive lines that prevent the offloads.

Our pillar defence is porous and needs to be shored up. Our lack of dominance in the tackle meant that the Argentinian players were able to speed up their play against retreating defenders and they exploited the gaps around the rucks. They also, very cleverly, obstructed our defenders in certain situations which created some of those holes. A prime example is Augustin Creevy running interference on Franco Mostert when Argentina used an inside ball to set up one of their tries. Our players need to be more street-smart in order to counter such tricks.

We were also badly exposed on the outside as Argentina created a lot of linebreaks in the wider channels. I’m hoping that this is due to the relative inexperience of our outside backs and can be sorted out quickly, but it’s worrying as it is a trend that has continued from the England series.

The last thing is the lack of creativity:

We seem to be trying the same thing over and over but expecting a different result…the very definition of madness!

I would like to see the Boks mixing things up with cross-kicks, small chips over the top, grubber kicks, inside passes to the wings coming through at speed, scissor moves, wrap-arounds etc. We seemed to be going through the motions and there was no urgency on attack. Our tactical kicking can also be improved on. We seem to kick the ball away hoping to get it back instead of knowing we’ll get it back. Our kicks are often uncontestable and the kick-receiver is under no pressure and has time to decide what to do with the ball. An effective kick is one that either contested in the air, one where the kicker is tackled as he lands, or one where the kicker is under pressure and has to kick out for a large gain to the attacking team. This is a big work-on for the Boks!

These are just a few observations and I’m hoping to see big improvements against Australia and New Zealand.


  • Great article. Lots to be worked on by the Boks. Brussow is no longer an option,but that would have been a killer loose trio.

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.08.18 08:59:43 by StevieS Reply
  • Kolisi will start – there is just no way around that. The question is where to fit him into the mix. A blindside he definitely is not. Personally I would say his style of play is best suited to eight.

    Based on the current squad I would use 6. Van Staden, 7. PSDT, 8. Kolisi

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.08.18 09:01:18 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Thanks for the good article. I don’t agree that our backline lacks creativity, we have scored so many tries out wide since Rassie took over I cant believe it. I do think we needed to chip more over their rush(offside defense) last Saturday.

    The Loose trio is very ineffective, I don’t mind Kolisi playing in any one of the three berths as long as the other two complement him. At the moment Whiteley is too similar and Louw hasn’t been good for a few years. From what they have on tour I would go with Duane at 8, Pstd at 7 and Kolisi at 6.

    We have not been good with our contestable kicks in the last two games and kicks for territory from 10 have been virtually non existent. I always like one of the half backs to be more kicking orientated and at the moment pollard and Faf are both attacking.

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.08.18 09:11:51 by Byron Wright Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 2) : I would agree with that loose trio as you say Kolisi has to start so me that has to be at 8 and he can fulfill that role at his franchise too.

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.08.18 09:40:01 by SheldonK Reply

  • As said above hte problem with the loosie combo is fititng in Kolisi…so for me if he starts at 8 then we can balance the loosies around that…starting him at 6 or 7 is a problem as he does neither role.
    In terms of the defense, we just didnt have the stomach for it on saturday and its a common trend if you look at our super rugby sides all the way down to our schoolboy sides…our players dont have a willingness to defend, they try in patches but nothing consistent and they get tired of it and just want to attack. Gone are the days of a Bok side smashing people back in tackles-and that is still the most effective way to counter an offload.
    In terms of creative play- quite simply the problem is our handling…we dont have the catching and passing ability to run clever lines etc so we stick with the supreme basics just so we can catch and pass the ball…well hopefully catch it.

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.08.18 09:43:52 by SheldonK Reply

  • The biggest priority would be to fix our defense, and we need to start with attitude. Too many players seemed to be spectators when it got to defending.

    Only one SA player (PSDT coming in at 8th with 23 tackles) is in the SANZAAR top 10 of tackles won, along with 2 Kiwis, 2 Australians and 5 Argentinians.

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.08.18 10:02:22 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) : You first line in that comment hits the nail on the head 100%

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.08.18 10:06:48 by SheldonK Reply

  • i feel Rassie needs to quickly figure out if his players can cut it or not so with that in mind id pick the following team to play Australia:
    1. Kitshoff 2. Marx. 3. Louw 4. Etzebeth 5. Snyman 6. Van Staden 7. PSDT 8.Kolisi 9. Papier 10. Pollard 12. Esterhuizen 13. Am 14.Mapoe 15. Willemse
    Bench: Beast, Mbonambi, DuToit, Mostert, Louw, DeKlerk, Jantjies, LeRoux

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.08.18 12:13:37 by SheldonK Reply

  • Rassie, or any Bok coach, has no chance as long as he cannot pick his best players. Be that for political, geographical or monetary reasons.

    Then even if that is all sorted he is stuck with amateurs running the provinces. Schools thinking size is the only requirement to be successful.

    Boks’ current ranking reflects their true position in world rugby.

    In fact they might still go lower.

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.08.18 16:33:51 by McLovin Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : I like that team. Give everyone a good run and see how they perform.

  • Comment 10, posted at 28.08.18 18:10:32 by StevieS Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : interesting team

    However your short a wing lol, happens to the best of us

  • Comment 11, posted at 28.08.18 23:49:54 by revolverocelot Reply

  • @revolverocelot (Comment 11) : His team is so good they don’t need another wing 😎

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.08.18 07:37:22 by StevieS Reply
  • @revolverocelot (Comment 11) : @StevieS (Comment 12) : Haha would be Dyanti. I got distracted thinking that if Mapimpi is injured they dont actually have another wing in the squad so gussing someone would have to be called up. My side pays a bit of attention to the bench as besides the All Blacks not may teams give much thought and use to their bench and thats why the All Blacks win so many games in the 2nd half

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.08.18 07:59:38 by SheldonK Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 9) : sad to say bit I think your 100% correct! Until the administrators become professional and do things in the best interest of rugby (and not themselves) and junior rugby is no longer a size rather than skills battle nothing will change to improve the quality SA rugby!!!

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.08.18 10:44:46 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @McLovin (Comment 9) : True, but that doesnt mean that I have any special sympathy for them, after all they are the ones who applied for the job knowing full well what the constraints are. They feel that they can make the difference that their predecessor couldnt so they must perform or move on until the next ,masochistic egomaniac steps up to the plate.

  • Comment 15, posted at 29.08.18 12:13:50 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 15) : The fate of a Bok coach has been predetermined by the universe (quantum physics or dark energy or something scientists have no found yet) to be such that he will be fired either before or when his term is due.

    The problem is when that happens SA will also be losing a resource who is highly rated in his other role of DOR (by e.g. our friend Morne). And that is the role that SA Rugby really needs.

  • Comment 16, posted at 29.08.18 13:17:30 by Bokhoring Reply
  • I see Ellendig is starting for WP this weekend. I expect he will be called to the Bok squad soon afterwards.

  • Comment 17, posted at 29.08.18 16:30:11 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 17) : At last some good news. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 18, posted at 29.08.18 16:43:26 by McLovin Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 17) : I expect him to start vs OZ if he comes through the WP game without getting injured. De Allende and either Kriel or Mapoe in the centre depending who is fit on the wing

  • Comment 19, posted at 30.08.18 08:10:30 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 19) : I feel for Kriel, the form centre since Mitchell got hold of him only to be shown the Bok door. It must rankle to know that you playing better than ever (and better than anyone else) and you dont make the team.

  • Comment 20, posted at 30.08.18 11:24:26 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • I still think he should have stayed at fullbak but understood the need for the move to centre. I still dont think any of our 13s are quite where they should be both least there is healthy competition. If Mapimpi injured i expect De Allede and Kriel to start at centre with Mapoe on the wing vs Oz.

  • Comment 21, posted at 30.08.18 11:47:44 by SheldonK Reply

  • The Aussies have been good in the first 20-30min in the games VS All Blacks so far ad Boks have been rubbish in first 20-30min all year…if Boks fall behind early against them i think we could be in big trouble away from home especially. All Blacks will beat us by 25-30pts so not even concerned about that game.

  • Comment 22, posted at 30.08.18 12:11:52 by SheldonK Reply


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