Boks to shove their weight around
Boks to shove their weight aroundSHARE
Scrum expert Balie Swart believes the new scrum laws will give the big Bok pack an edge on their European tour.
The scrum is a key area in which to establish dominance on the heavy fields up north, and is an area on which European teams place a heavy emphasis, but Swart is confident that the Boks will be able to hold their own.
Heyneke Meyer's team have had the benefit of playing under the new scrum laws in the Rugby Championship and the Currie Cup, which may give them an advantage over Wales, Scotland and France as their hosts look to adjust quickly.
Swart believes that the size and power of the Springbok pack will translate into dominance at scrum-time, thanks to the influence of the new laws.
He told this website in an interview: "It is important to understand that the team with the stronger scrum is going to dominate with the new laws.
"The power of the pack lies in proper binding, carrying your own bodyweight and making sure that you have got pressure in your legs and you dont get yourself extended before the ball comes in because then you will get pushed around," he said.
The Bok scrum has been impressive this year, and with few changes expected to be made to the starting pack on this tour they will be keen to continue that form.
One change that has been forced on Meyer is at tighthead prop after stalwart Jannie du Plessis was ruled out through injury.
It seems that Coenie Oosthuizen will get a chance to show that he is up to Test tighthead standard, but Swart has not been convinced by his transition thus far and would prefer to see him on the loosehead side.
"In my opinion Coenie is a fantastic player and everything, but in my opinion he is a very good loosehead. Any player would like to play for the Springboks and even if you tell Coenie, 'mate go play lock' he will do it.
"You cannot make a mistake five minutes from the end when you have got to get your ball, you can't mess around with guys who are not really in their position," he said.
Swart explained that as long as they adapt to the interpretations of the referees there is no reason for the Boks to battle when they pack down.
"I am not sure how the European referees are going to ref it. We have got to understand what the law requires and we need to play within those laws.
"If we do that and you look at the manpower we have got, you will dominate other teams.
"We have got a huge pack of forwards, that is massive to be honest, and all we need to do is keep things straight in the front so we can get the pressure through from the back five.
"Once we get that we will dominate any pack, but if we don't get that stability in the front and keep straight at the front at the right height and in the right direction that all 16 feet can work together we won't dominate," he added.
Although much is made of the heavier fields in Europe, Swart does not expect the playing surfaces in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Paris to pose much of a problem.
"These fields these days play a huge role. They are probably going to close the roof at the Millenium Stadium, so it will be a good surface to scrum on, in Paris they have got good pitches and in Scotland as well.
"Scrumming is still the area where there is proper combat, and you cannot run away. Scrumming is about 16 feet moving together in the same direction and people staying straight in the front and not sabotaging their own pushing power by going in on angles.
"I firmly believe that we will do well, if we stay within law and we have a referee that blows to the law and makes sure that people don't go and do their own wishlist when they play against us, and be strict enough to blow what the law requires, we will do well," he said.
By Michael de Vries