Boks going BIG on the gainline

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 09:22
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Dominating the gainline is key to South Africa securing back-to-back victories over Argentina. We go inside the Bok camp.

Dominating the gainline is key to South Africa securing back-to-back victories over Argentina.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, as meticulous as he always is, explained that the selection of two huge ball-carriers is part of the greater plan for the second Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas - in Mendoza on Saturday.

The news of Sharks loose forward Keegan Daniel's axing was met with indignation among the uninformed public, given that he was replaced by burly Jacques Potgieter.

Some see that as more evidence of Meyer's preference for Bulls players over more 'skillful' men from other unions.

But Meyer explained that the physical nature of Argentina's game and the need to "dominate on the gainline" is the reason behind the selection change.

"They had a very strong defence [in the Boks' 27-6 win Cape Town last week] and now we have two big ball carriers," Meyer told a media gathering at the team's base in Mendoza.

"I was always worried in the first Test that we did not have enough ball carriers," he said, when questioned about Daniel's absence.

"Although Willem [Alberts] is not an out-and-out No.8, he has played there often," the Bok mentor said about the decision to axe Daniel, shift Alberts to the back of the scrum and draft in Potgieter on the flank.

"Jacques [Potgieter] gives us an extra ball-carrier.

"If we played Australia [this week], Keegan [Daniel] would probably have started.

"It is definitely horses for courses."

Meyer said he felt Daniel played well at Newlands, suggesting the Sharks player had the most cleans and almost played like an openside flank.

"I just felt for this game we need two big ball carriers," Meyer said, adding: "We have to stop them on the gainline and I want us to have gainline dominance."

The other change - Adriaan Strauss for the injured Bismarck du Plessis at hooker - is self-explanatory.

Meyer said the remarkable recovery of wing Bryan Habana is a huge boost for the team.

Habana, the most experienced member of the squad with 78 Tests for South Africa, injured his left ankle against Argentina in Cape Town last weekend and passed a fitness test on Wednesday.

His inclusion means the backline is unchanged from the one that beat Argentina 27-6 at Newlands.

The Springboks will start the match with a combined total of 412 Test Caps - 130 of those in the forwards and 282 in the backs.

"Having Bryan is obviously a big boost as we've lost a number of players with lots of experience after JP Pietersen, Pierre Spies and Bismarck du Plessis had to withdraw from our squad," said the Bok coach.

"It is a huge sense of relief," he said, adding: "The medical team must get a lot of credit and Bryan was also very professional on the flight here.

"It is awesome to have Bryan [in the team], even till yesterday I thought he would not play.

"We need some continuity and it is great to have more-or-less the same team that played in the previous Test."