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Louw backs Boks to bounce back

Tue, 04 Sep 2012 09:06
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I wouldn't say that we are panicking and everything is getting thrown out the window
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Recalled Springbok loose forward Francois Louw has called on his teammates to "stay composed" and focussed on the job at hand.

Speaking at a media briefing in Perth, ahead of South Africa's third-round Rugby Championship encounter with Australia on Saturday, Louw dismissed the notion that the Boks' 16-all draw against Argentina a fortnight ago was a disaster.

The hard-hitting flank, who joined English Premiership club Bath last year and has captained them, joined up with the Boks in Perth late on Monday - after being recalled in the place of Keegan Daniel.

The former Stormers loose forward, unlike the widely held belief that Heyneke Meyer is on the wrong track with his coaching style, said there is no need for panic.

"They [the Boks] did well in the first game, getting a decent [27-6] victory [over the Pumas at Newlands]," he said of the Round One result.

"Getting a [16-all] draw in Mendoza [is] not an ideal outcome," Louw told the media, adding: "That just shows what this tournament is like and what Argentina can bring to the table.

"They are not a side you can take lightly ... it was a hard game up front."

He described the Mendoza draw as a "wake-up call".

"That is something we can feed off as a [Bok] team, going into the last four games [of the Rugby Championship]," Louw said, adding that there is definitely no sense of panic in the Bok camp at all.

"It wasn't a good game, but I wouldn't say that we are panicking and everything is getting thrown out the window.

"As with any side the most important thing is to stay focussed on the task, have composure ... obviously work on your mistakes and fix those errors.

"You must [also] advance [and improve] on the things you did well."

Describing himself as a "more rounded" player, the 27-year-old loose forward has made the most of his 19 appearances for Bath to add a difference dimension to his game.

Although seen as an openside flank, he feels that he has learnt from the more direct approach most Northern Hemisphere teams take to the game.

"There is a whole different culture there in the United Kingdom alone ... the rugby is different," he said of his stint in England.

"The styles between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres are different ... not to say one is better than the other - the guys like to keep it a little more direct over there and a little more expansive in the south."

He felt it was an "easy adjustment" to make.

"I have definitely been introduced to a new dimension of rugby," Louw said, adding: "As a player you constantly look to evolve ... you can never sit back and say this is my limit.

"To be introduced to new styles, new players and new schools of thought surrounding the game has massively broaden my perspective on the game.

"There is definitely elements you can take from it to improve your game.

"You play alongside players you can feed off, international players, Six Nations players. I definitely learnt a thing or two over there and [has] become a more allround player."

Louw has also come in for high praise from Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, who felt the experience he brings from playing up north will be of good value to South Africa.

"If you look at our loose trio at the moment, there is not a lot of experience there," Meyer said, adding: "He also brings an extra leadership role, which we also need at this stage.

"I haven't worked with him before, so I want to have a close look at him."

However, the Bok coach felt that - after having watched videos of the last two games between Australia and New Zealand - there is a lot of competing on the ground and that is where Louw can add value.

"It [competing on the ground] is one area we are going to look at - he'll fit into that role."

Louw hasn't been guaranteed a starting place and may only play off the bench, since he only joined up with the Boks late on Monday and won't have much time to adjust to the new Bok culture under Meyer.

"We'll assess him [this week], but I am very happy to have a player of his stature here ... especially with all the injuries to senior players.

"I think he will have a big role to play."

Meyer said he always wanted the option of a specialist openside flank, maybe coming off the bench.

Meyer feels that with the Northern Hemisphere referees usually a little bit more lenient at the breakdown - Welshman Nigel Owens is in charge this week - he wants the Boks to have cover in that department.

"[Wallaby Michael] Hooper is a very good openside [flank] and he is playing very well," the Bok coach said, adding: "At least he [Louw] gives us that option there if we need to put a specialist openside flank on, we do have the personnel there.

"What I have noticed, while analysing the videos, is that most of the steals are by the hookers.

"I said before, the whole team needs to be able to compete on the ground [at the breakdown] and our problem was not just taking the opposition ball, the problem against Argentina was the breakdown on our own ball.

"That is not just the openside's role, it is the whole team.

"We need to be more affective at the breakdown. Our body positions should be lower and we should clean more effectively at the breakdown ... it is a team thing, not just a job for the openside [flank].

"It is always nice to have an openside flank around and I have always believed in a specialist openside."

Highly regarded for his defensive skills, Louw will provide the Boks with another strong back row option.

He does not only create havoc at the breakdown for opposing teams, but is also skilful and quick in attack.

The 188cm, 112kg loose forward has made 10 appearances for South Africa since his debut against Wales in 2010, and he has scored two tries  - most recently he was selected to be part of the Springbok squad for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

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