Smith defends 'inexperienced' back three

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 14:08

REACTION: Bok backline coach Franco Smith believes the criticism levelled against the Boks' outside backs have been unfair so far.

The combination of Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, and Raymond Rhule have not really impressed fans this season. They have been exposed on defence against the All Blacks and the Wallabies on tour and there have also been times when they have not been secure under the high ball as well. 

Rhule has since been dropped from the squad with Dillyn Leyds likely to take his place in the back three for the Test against Australia in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

"I think that is the perception," said Smith. "If you look at the detail which we work with every day then that is the perception that is actually wrong. 

"If you see how much ball has been dropped by other teams and by predecessors you will see that it is not much more than what we have been doing. 

"I think we have been really working hard at it generally and there is a big improvement on it. You can’t judge a guy if he drops one ball and points come from it, and the other three that he did manage to handle well must be noted as well. 

"I think what must also be taken into consideration is that we still sit with one of the most inexperienced back threes in the international scene, so we just got to work through this period. 

"A lot of teams started a year ago - I think this new coaching staff and this new way of play basically came in the beginning of 2017. It's seven games we've been together. 

"I think there is a perspective that we have been struggling over the last two years. It is not the case. Our prep for the next step only started 2017 since this coaching staff and this group has been together."

Smith said he hopes his back three are tested more under the high ball against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

"We are granted this opportunity and I believe if every player works the way we have been doing then we will change the perspective. I know because I deal with the stats and I deal with the way they play with video material every day. 

"The most difficult thing in the game is to catch that ball out of the air, so we see this as an opportunity. It is not a negative for us anymore because we know that if we field that ball out of the air it creates an opportunity to play rugby.

"We hope that they [Australia] give us a lot of high balls so that we know that if we can manage that properly we are going to score more tries. That is how we are going to approach it and develop the players' mindset around it," said the Bok assistant coach.

By Warren Fortune

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