Bok pack hitting their stride

Tue, 25 Sep 2012 11:10
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We've grown a lot, there's been a lot of progression

Springbok forwards coach Johan van Graan believes that his pack have found their feet and are ready to start dominating as a unit at Test level.

The Bok forwards were very impressive in the Rugby Championship clash with the All Blacks in Dunedin, where errant goal-kicking cost the team dearly, and Van Graan is excited about seeing them build on that when they take on Australia at Loftus Versveld this weekend.

"We've worked hard the last few weeks and the front row gave one of their best performances and the loose forwards got stuck in as well," Van Graan told reporters on Tuesday.

"We can improve on the lineout, where we lost a couple of balls, but the kick-offs were good and so was the ball retention - we had our lowest turnover rate of the whole year.

"I'm really proud of the performance against the All Blacks, we played some of our best rugby and to have 58 percent territory and 52 percent possession against them at home is a great effort," he said.

The Bok forwards coach said that after a few key injuries, the relatively inexperienced pack have had to adjust quickly to the highest level, and added that their enthusiasm bodes well for the future.

"You can always improve and evolve and we started with the base, it's about finding your feet at this level," he said

"But we've grown a lot, there's been a lot of progression,.our ball-retention and contesting on the ground is much better.

"You evolve step-by-step and we hope we take another step on Saturday. Hopefully, we can go from a good performance to a great winning performance," Van Graan added.

Although satisfied with the pack's progress, Van Graan said that they will have to be sharp against a Wallabies outfit that has remained competitive despite plenty of their own injury concerns.

"Australia scrummed very well against us and Nathan Sharpe is one of the best locks of all time, so their lineout is tricky and they kick to different places to put you under pressure," the assistant coach added.

Tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis believes that the lack of experience in the bok pack has been something of a blessing in disguise, explaining that the energy the new players have brought to the side has been invaluable.

"There are some advantages to inexperience, because those players are hungry and will play better than someone who has played a hundred tests and has a 'been there, done that' approach. As they say, 'a hungry dog hunts best'," he said.