It’s the evolution of the team
Springbok assistant coach John McFarland says the manner in which they scored was the most pleasing aspect of Saturday’s Soweto hammering.
The Springboks scored nine tries as they got their Rugby Championship campaign off to a perfect start with a 73-13 victory over Argentina at Soccer City.
However, it’s how they scored their tries rather than how many that showed the improvement the team have made over the past 12 months, according to McFarland.
McFarland said the performance highlighted the change of mindset the traditionally conservative Springboks had made as well as the ability to execute their counter-attacking approach.
“We scored four drive tries from line-outs at the weekend. If you look over the year we’ve scored a lot of tries, but what’s really improved is our counter-attacking,” McFarland said ahead of this weekend’s return fixture in Mendoza.
“Our ability to get guys back after a kick and get into a positive attacking shape and a mindset to have a go has been really good.”
Asked what prompted the change of approach, McFarland said, “It’s the evolution of the team. Everybody has a buy into that, from No.1 to No.15, and we’re able to use the ball when it does come.”
Known for his line-out expertise, Springbok lock Juandré Kruger showed that he, like the team, has evolved when he won a turnover inside his 22 in the lead-up to centre JJ Engelbrecht’s try following a clever chip from fullback Willie le Roux.
“We focus a lot on our breakdown and our defence. We want to improve every week, we know where we want to be going and it’s definitely a main focus area for us,” said Kruger.
The 27-year-old, who joined French club Racing Metro from the Bulls at the end of the Super Rugby season, insisted, though, that their primary focus remained their set-piece play.
“Set-piece is always something the Springboks pride themselves on. We work very hard on it and have specialists in those fields, coach Pieter de Villiers and Johann van Graan help to prepare us every week,” he said.
“We’ve done very well over the past two years. We’ve learned a lot from each other and we link up very well on the field. At the end of the day it’s about making the right calls on the pitch under pressure.”
Kruger and his second row partner Eben Etzebeth dominated the line-out in the first-round encounter after Pumas veteran Patricio Albacete limped off in the opening quarter of the match.
Kruger said losing Albacete was a big blow for the Pumas but also presented a younger player with an opportunity to make a name for himself.
“He’s an experienced player and it’s always tough to lose an experienced player but if a young guy comes in he brings something different to the table and brings some excitement into the game.
“I’m sure they’ll be up for this game at home for them and the pressure will be on both teams to perform.”