Boks ready to dust off kicking game

Tue, 10 Sep 2013 06:00
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South Africa's newfound Joie de vivre may be curtailed by the notoriously fickle Auckland weather this week.

South Africa's newfound Joie de vivre may be curtailed by the notoriously fickle Auckland weather this week.

However, the Springboks are ready to dust off their kicking game when they go head-to-head with the All Blacks in a Rugby Championship crunch match at Eden Park on Saturday.

The Round Four encounter between the tournament's two unbeaten sides will go a long way towards determining the destiny of the trophy, currently held by New Zealand.

The overriding desire to win may result in a more cautious approach, although the Boks still hope to continue with the expansive game that saw them score 14 tries in the first three rounds - including record breaking wins over Argentina (73-13 in Soweto) and Australia (38-12 in Brisbane).

Bok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher and record-breaking flyhalf Morné Steyn both spoke of the team's desire to continue playing their ball-in-hand game, but added that they will change tact if circumstances require it.

Loubscher, who declared himself "very happy" with the performance against Australia last Saturday, said the Boks will remain flexible.

"It is always nice to score a few tries," he said of his team - who outscored New Zealand by 14 tries to 11 in the first three rounds of the competition.

"Credit must go to the forwards," he said, adding that the plan is always to score tries.

"However, it depends on the day - the referee and the defence, but the plan is always to score tries."

Other than his brief mentioning of the ref, Loubscher avoided any reference to the match officials.

However, the recent changes to appointments means Frenchman Romain Poite, notorious for his erratic breakdown rulings, will be in charge of the Auckland Test.

And then there is the weather.

The build-up to the match will be marked by heavy rain on Thursday and Friday, with local weather predictions suggesting an 80 percent chance of precipitation during the day on Saturday.

It will clear somewhat, with only a 30 percent chance of rain by game time. However, the temperature will drop to 7°C and it will be 'breezy' - meaning the wind could also have an affect.

Loubscher said kicking is a "big part" of every team's tactics, with statistics showing that the All Blacks have kicked more than the Boks - the Kiwis having kicked 74 times (with a match high of 30 in the 27-16 win over the Wallabies in Round Two) and the Boks delivering just 67 kicks (a match high of 25 against the Wallabies last week).

"It is no different in terms of how we want to play," Loubscher told a media briefing in Auckland, adding: "On Saturday it will depend on the conditions, whether it will be dry or raining, so on the day you have to ensure you adapt to the conditions."

Steyn also admitted that the wet weather predicted for Auckland could have an influence on tactics.

"If I look outside now it is a perfect day," the veteran flyhalf said.

"Hopefully Saturday can be the same, but you never know."

he added that the Springboks do have the ability to play "any type" of rugby - be that wet weather or a dry day.

"I don't think we have to change anything, it will just be more a kicking battle [if it is wet]," Steyn told the media scrum, adding: "It will be up to No.9, No.10 and No.15 to dictate where we play."

Loubscher said the Boks took "a lot of confidence" out of last week's win, the first time since 1971 they won in Brisbane and their first-ever win at the Suncorp stadium.

Their record in Auckland is even less flattering. You have to go back to 1937 to find the last of the Boks' two wins (the other having been in 1921) in Auckland. An 18-all draw in 1994 is the closets South Africa came since.

However, Loubscher said they are focused to ensure we win every Test in the current era.

"I don't think it will be any different this week," the Boks' assistant coach said, adding: "Last week showed record are there to be broken.

"We will approach this week the same as every Test we play - we will focus on our own game."

He said there are lots of areas they feel still need to improve.