Boks, Lions in culture clash
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks can't copy the Lions style of play because the two teams have different cultures.
That was the view of Springbok head coach Allister Coetzee, who was addressing reporters at the team's rehabilitation and conditioning camp in Stellenbosch.
The Lions will play the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby Final on Saturday after impressing throughout the tournament with an expansive game plan.
It is a game plan which many feel the Springboks should adopt going forward. However, with the Boks' first Rugby Championship match against Argentina less than three weeks away, Coetzee does not agree.
"I still have to make sure that I select the best group of players that can win a Test match against Argentina," said Coetzee. "That Argentinian team will pose different threats altogether. You can't just copy the Lions - it is not the Lions playing there.
"Hopefully there could be a number of Lions players in the team, but it is a different culture.
"Yes, they are playing brilliant rugby, but we just have to make sure that we read and work out how teams view South Africa and where they can beat the Springboks. That is what we have to understand - not how they want to beat the Lions.
"I think people see the Lions as team who are very strong offensively, so they want to wait for a counterattack and they want to play off that. The Lions are holding onto the ball nicely, but the times where they did not hold onto the ball, teams scored a lot of tries against them.
"Against the Springboks, it would be completely different. They will turn the [Springboks'] big pack around and they have got other strategies and that is what I have to think of - how to fix the challenge at hand and look at the plans that they will use against us."
Coetzee has opted to delay the announcement of his Rugby Championship squad because he does want to affect the confidence levels of the Lions players ahead of the Super Rugby Final.
Australia has named a 36-man training squad for the upcoming tournament, while New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen confirmed his final 32-man squad on Monday
"We are thinking of a Lions side that must compete in a Final - it is in the best interests to make sure that those players in the Lions side are focussed on the Final. It could go both ways - it could motivate others, but it could demotivate others. It is just out of respect and that is why we did not announce it," Coetzee added.
Meanwhile, Willie Le Roux and JP Pietersen could potentially miss the start of this year's Rugby Championship.
Coetzee confirmed that both players are currently with their overseas-based clubs and that is why they are not participating in the rehabilitation and conditioning camp this week.
Pietersen has linked up with Leicester Tigers in England, while Le Roux is with the Canon Eagles in Japan.
"When last did he [JP Pietersen] have a proper pre-season?" said Coetzee. "He is a quality player and we saw flashes of that - now we start writing JP off.
"The right thing for him is to get a proper pre-season again, to get his four weeks off and go into a pre-season with his club. He is still available for us.
"Willie le Roux is in a similar position. I have to make sure that I manage them because they form part of the broader picture going forward to 2019."
Although he was not originally named in the 18-man group, Mbongeni Mbonambi is in Stellenbosch with the rest of rehabilitation and conditioning squad.
By Warren Fortune