'Blended' Boks ready for Les Bleus

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 06:00

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok coach Allister Coetzee may not be a master winemaker, but he says he knows a good blend when he sees one.

Coetzee, speaking at the team's training base in Pretoria ahead of the opening Test against France, said the Boks must get the right 'blend' between attack and defence.

In a week in which new Bok captain Warren Whiteley became a father for the second time, the coach spoke of the need to respect the French at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

That means the Boks won't be running wild in the opening skirmishes of the June battles.

"There is one thing about the French," Coetzee told a media briefing, adding: "If you don't respect them, they will punish you.

"Look at the history [of Tests] between SouthAfrica and France, then you see why they should be respected," Coetzee said in reference to Les Bleus' 11 victories over the Boks - including six wins and five draws in 21 encounters on South African soil.

While Coetzee said the Boks must focus on their own game and where they are as a group, he was "excited" about the opportunity to measure his team against a powerful side like the French.

He pointed out that the French are also ahead of South Africa in terms of world rankings.

"We can use that and see the progress that we make," he said.

However, he cautioned against expecting the Boks to go into an all-out attacking mode.

"We have to win Test matches," he said, adding: "I have a Franco Smith here and Brendan Venter here.

"It is almost like a wine maker.

The one is very attack driven, you can see that in the way the Cheetahs play.

"Then you have Brendan Venter who got to get the defence right.

"Someone has to 'fuse' this and make sure the balance is right.

"You can't just run and you can't also just kick. I have always professed there must be a 'balance' in rugby and we need to get that balance right, knowing what is coming.

"We will se this [coming] weekend if we have that balance right."

Coetzee also spoke of understanding the DNA of the Springboks.

"We can't look at some other style, that looks smart and entertains in Super Rugby.

"This is Test rugby. We must come back to what Springbok rugby is and what we have to select from."

He said one of the biggest challenges for his team this year will be their contact skills, at the breakdown.

By Jan de Koning, at the Springbok camp in Pretoria
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