Rugby: Focus on Boks' backline veterans

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Morne Steyn of South Africa. Photo / Getty Images
Morne Steyn of South Africa. Photo / Getty Images

The Springboks will scrum hard, drive from the lineout and fight for the ball on the ground.

But it's at the back, where halfback Fourie du Preez and first-five Morne Steyn will direct the Boks as they go in search of the four tries that will help set them up to bag the Rugby Championship.

Coach Heyneke Meyer's team will need the four-tries bonus point and will have to deny the All Blacks a bonus point if they're to surpass their oldest foes at Ellis Park, and that requires a more attacking mindset, starting with the inside backs.

So it will be up to the wise heads of du Preez and Steyn to lead the way.

The two former Bulls players know each other's games inside out and if du Preez's service is as slick and accurate as it's been in his three appearances for the Boks this year, Steyn will have the perfect platform to get the best out of a back division that will be itching to have a go.

The 50-times capped Steyn has copped a lot of flak for a perceived lack of flair, but there's no denying the Boks have been a far more threatening side in attack this year - and Steyn's got a lot to do with that.

His kicking game is unquestioned, but with what the Boks need to achieve on Sunday to win the championship, the flyhalf has an opportunity to also show he's far more than a good kicker and ball-shifter.

Meyer says Steyn will be asked to take control of the game, but before that the pack will have to do their job.

"We want to play positive rugby, but we first have to match the All Blacks' kicking game, do the basics well and defend well," said Meyer yesterday. "Everything starts at the breakdown ... the backline can't play if there's no quick ball.

"But we've worked hard on ensuring we get quick ball, and that's improved a lot in the last year, and we've shown we can score tries. When you're on the front foot and your flyhalf is playing flatter, spaces open up for you."

But Meyer points out that playing flatter to the gain line, and thus more attackingly, depends on quick ruck ball. "It's going to be a huge contest at the breakdowns."

- Independent Newspapers, SA

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