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The Springboks are at risk of a white wash (losing all 4 Tri-nation tests matches) for the first time in tri-nations history. Desperate times indeed and that might explain some of the selections for this match.

The teams for this match are:

South Africa:

15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Substitutes: 16 John Smit, Tendai Mtawarira, CJ van der Linde, Danie Rossouw, Ashley Johnson, Francois Hougaard, Butch James.

New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Isaia Toeava, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Cory Jane.

South Africa’s team selections might also have been inspired by a need to give some returning players (after injury) game time before the RWC.

Nevertheless, the 5/2 forwards/back split on the bench and the fact that Beast Mtawarira, John Smit and Danie Rossouw are starting off the bench might be indicative of South Africa’s game tactics or at least might be a refreshing new angle on an out-dated and way too predictable game plan and substitution policy.

Truth be told you don’t need to be a genius, oracle or octopus to predict how South Africa is going to play the game.

What I do find interesting is the fact that we see a deviation from normal policy to play returning players who need game time from the bench. Normally Petertjie will start with the inform players and only bring the ‘returning players’ on the field in the last 20 minutes or so.

Intriguing is the fact that John Smit and Beast Mtawarira starts off the bench while Alberts and Bismarch starts with Brüssow.  Gurthro Steenkamp is clearly not going to last the match and neither are Alberts, Bakkies Botha and Jannie du Plessis.

There seems to be some strategy behind this and I would venture that the game plan is something along the following lines.

Looking at the bench I reckon we are going to try and keep it tight and play with the forwards.

If the game opens-up we’ll come second so we need to play a very structured game.

Keep it tight and start bringing fresh legs on in the tight five within the first 10 minutes of the second half. The fitter and more mobile props namely Beast Mwatirira and CJ van der Linde as well as the game fit Danie Rossouw and playmaker Ashley Johnston will be introduced in the last 40 minutes of the game when the All Blacks normally pick up the pace. The plan clearly, to use these substitutions to try and keep up with the pace of the game in the tight five and to try and maintain any form of control we might establish up-front.  Mostly, I think, the idea is to keep the frontrow fresh so we can maintain a structured hold on the game in order to enforce a teritorrial type game plan and prevent the game from opening up.

Bismarck, Brüssow, Alberts, Bakkies Botha and Gurthro start to prevent the All Black from establishing early dominance at the breakdowns.

Bismarck and Brüssow are our best pilferers while Gurthro, Bakkies and Alberts normally do well in driving the attackers back in the tackle. If these guys do their bit we can prevent the All Blacks from getting flow and scoring some early tries.

Alberts and Bismarck (and Spies sometimes) are also good at taking the ball up and creating front foot ball. If we can force a few penalties in the first half and get Morné to kick a few drop goals while preventing the All Blacks from scoring tries by disrupting them at the breakdown we will be in with a change when the fresh legs come-up in the second stages of the second half.

Johnson, Danie Rossouw, CJ van der Linde, Hougaard, John Smit and Beast Mtiwarira can potentially make impact in the last 20 minutes and with Butch then on flyhalf we can ensure that the backline play flatter on the advantage line and more direct.

This approach also ensures maximizing leadership on the field in the last 20 minutes with Smit coming from the bench.

I am not sure if Petertjie actually planned it this way but the more I think about it the more I feel that this is an interesting even modestly refreshing variation on our normal team selections and substitution approach which might potentially impact positively on how the boks play on Saturday.

It is still the old game plan but with slight variation in cavelry?

Alberts, Bakkies, Gurthro, will be tasked to drive the AB’s back in the tackle while Bismarck and Brussow will try and steal the ball.

Stopping the All Black flow would be essential to achieve a win.

Other than that Gurthro, Bismarck, Spies and Alberts will be used as runners to set it up or to punch holes.

The Bokke have no choice, they will have to stick with what they’ve always done and try and find the players who can enforce their game plan effectively.

Changing the game plan now to try and beat the All Blacks with expansive rugby is absolute madness.

Best way to counter someone who is best with a particular style is to do the opposite.

Enforce a different rhythm or structure onto the match which will not allow the opponent to play the way in which he/she is best.

You can’t beat the best in the world with their own game. You need to throw them of balance and force them to play in a way in which you are better or that disallow them to play their natural game.

After having said all that I am not sure we can play in a way in which we are better than the All Blacks at the moment. Even if the play a 10-man type game they will probably still outplay us.

Our chances of beating them are however better, in my opinion, if we can prevent them from running with the ball.

We have the backs out wide in Pietersen, Lambie, Habana and Jaque Fourie to score tries but not enough structure at the breakdowns to play an expansive game.

Our ball retention, when we ruck it up and our ball handling skills in the backline have been absolutely horrible so far this Tri-Nations.

Last week against the Aussies we created try scoring opportunities but were not aggressive enough at the tackle area to benefit from our breakaways. Players try and pick the ball up instead of blowing over and clearing the defenders out.  We will have to improve in this facet of the game if we want to score tries.

Our best chance in scoring tries, I believe, will be to use starter moves from set piece. Moves that involve Habana, Lambie, Alberts and Pietersen running onto the ball, like the try JP Pietersen scored against the Lions, from a lineout. Another option would be off-loads or quick pick-ups after punching holes with angled runners or pods. For instance use Alberts and Spies to punch the holes in channels 1 and 2 after set piece and then offload to Habana, Pietersen and/or Jaque Fourie coming though at speed.

We have the team to beat these All Blacks but lack proper coaching and I also believe our players are not fit.  Some look genuinely overweight while others look extremely rusty.

Are these players still hungry enough to win a RWC? In the final analysis it is the players/team who wants it most, who lifts him/her/themselves emotionally to physically do whatever is required. We were hungry in 1995 and in 2007 after isolation and having done so badly in 1999 and 2003.

The current players have all already won the biggest crown in world rugby. Are they still hungry enough? Looking at the physique of some of the players I tend to see mostly a state of ‘overfedness’.

12 Responses to Strategy behind team selections?

  • 1

    How did we do badly in 1999? We finished 3rd, after narrowly losing in semi. In the final any team would have beaten the spent force that was France, so we we’re a few minutes away from defending our crown?

  • 2

    How did we do badly in 1999? We finished 3rd, after narrowly losing in semi. In the final any team would have beaten the spent force that was France, so we we’re a few minutes away from defending our crown.

  • 3

    My posts lyk soos Superbul se Giteau artikel…

  • 4

    Great article and analysis!
    However, do you think that CJ will offer anything at scrum time? He has consistently been shoved all over the field this year, and I fear that the same will happen tomorrow. I can see a repeat of last week, Boks will do ok…..then Snor will send on CJ, the scrum will be man shamed, the backline will be on the back foot, the forwards will go into their shells and the Adidas All Blacks will smell blood and that will be the end of that.
    Moer, I hate being so negative about the Boks.

  • 5

    Oh, and enter Blou Kuiberruimwandelaar in 3.2.1.

  • 6

    @ Rugbyprof@1 and 2:We lost by a drop goal against Aussies in extra time in the semi’s and were pretty close in defending the title but the campaign in general was dissapointing because of having come so close; everyone felt afterwards we could have won it.

    The 1999 results made us hungry as compared to the 2007 results which made us (or at least the current team) complacent.

  • 7

    @ Loosehead@4:Agree CJ is shit and the whole game plan might collapse because of that.

    The idea behind the team and bench selections (if it atcually was the idea) might howver be usefull to exploit.

    It is a different strategy to bring the inform (apart from CJ in whose case the word inform is misnomer) players on as subs instead of starting with them and playing Bismarch and Gurthro with Brussow. We can’t play the expansive game so we need to try something different and in a sense this is something different which might just reap benefits.

    In terms of being negative about the boks I am ‘goedgatvol’ and in in my opinion SARU must carry all the blame (James Stofberg and his cronies who appointed this clown as a coach?).

    It is time for a public demonstration of power. Public must get organised and stay away from all test matches in protest if they appoint another window dressing coach.

  • 8

    McLook, it saddens me that so many peple beleive we can’t beat the all Blacks, and that it is almost impossible for us to beat them.

    These are facts. The all Blacks succumb to pressure like any other team. they get frustrated and transgrees when they don’t have possession. Their pride is often their downfall. They want to prove that running rugby is the only way to play the game.

    To beat the all Blacks we only need to do the follwing.

    When we kick for territory make sure the kicks are out and they cannot take quick throw ins.
    don’t kick the ball to them, in every match you see SA run 300 meters and the All Blacks and Wallabies run 500 meters. Why, because we provide them too much ball to run from deep. Their wings and full back gains 30 meters a run because there is no one to tackle them.

    A long kick must go out, an up and under too be effective must not be long. a box kick must be into space. We almost never use the inside pass, our attacks are so predictable it isn’t even funny.

    Or forwards do not understand the basics of physics. if you have the ball and have to run the first few meters sideways, your momentum is going in the wrong sirection and you WILL be tackled back, PASs the ball. We have no runners running new angles, Jean de Villiers last saturday only ran straight, and almost never offloaded, what’s the challenge in defending that?

    If our forwards play under the proverbial blanket we can’t be counter rucked, our ball carriers can’t be isolated.

    I can carry this on forwever and a day.

    We don’t win, becuase we are fu..en playing dum rugby.

  • 9

    We all see it, but why don’t our coaches see it?

  • 10

    @ Lion4ever:Because they’re watching the scoreboard!

  • 11

    @ McLook:
    McLook…good article….but you wont get the public organised, we’ve tried that before….SA fans love to moan, but are generally apathetic about taking a stance.

  • 12

    Guys, what do you want the coach to do “fall on his sword”? If that happens, who takes over.

    I’ve said since March this year, “it is too late to change the management manpower, you can only add to it” I’ve also said “we have sufficient talent and skill amongst our players to be the best in the world, which we actually currently are”. We are our own worst detractors.
    Do you think the players do not read blogs like this, of course they do and if it is all doom and gloom, how do you think it effects them….the time has long passed for all of us to have a little faith and show support in the team and their leadership. I have no doubt in my mind that the Boks performing at their best using the current crop of players can beat any team on the planet. In the last world cup, the team peaked during the tournament….all indications are that this will happen again. The sure sign of a negatively motivated person is for them to predict the worst case scenario and if it comes true, for them to say “I told you so”, but if it doesn’t come true….who remembers the cr*p prediction….no one, they are too busy celebrating the win. The reason for this is simple, negatively motivated people cannot stand to see anyone else doing better than themselves….and there is a very very old saying “misery loves company”…..Come on, get with the programme, engage with your emotion and passion for this team, rather than denigrating it….the tournament…after all….is yet to be played!! Oh another thing…we all know good defences and tight game plans win world cups, not the flair and 50/50 chances….you only take those chances when you have absolutely nothing to lose and there is very little time on the board left. If the cap fits wear it….if you disagree with me, well, I can tell you I don’t give a flying f*ck if you don’t. JMHO.


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