Kicking game key for South African World Cup plans

Having Morne Steyn in the team forces other sides to kick more says Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. Photo / Getty Images
Having Morne Steyn in the team forces other sides to kick more says Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. Photo / Getty Images

Kicking seemed the name of the game after the Springboks announced their team to play Fiji tonight.

A good kicking game, paired with a solid defence and an adherence to structures will win the Rugby World Cup for South Africa.

Peter de Villiers makes no apologies for his decision to go with a conservative game plan. Neither did Kitch Christie say sorry for doing that, nor Jake White.

"With Morne [Steyn] there, you force teams to kick more, because they do not want to play in their half," said de Villiers, the Springbok coach. "You put more pressure on the opponents and the more they kick the more we can dictate the game. Frans Steyn is the same. You put more pressure on them to execute the things they want to do before the game has started."

There were no surprises in international rugby anymore, said de Villiers, just like there were no such things as minnow teams.

The Springboks will not be succumbing to World Cup fever and changing the essence of how they play during the tournament. They are what they are.

"Everyone in world rugby knows how each other team plays. I still want to find the coach who does not know how we play. Everybody knows how we play. It's how we play on the day and how we execute that plan. Everyone says you should have a plan B and a plan C, but I don't believe in that nonsense. You have one plan and inside that plan you have some different patterns."

De Villiers' selections for the match against Fiji have, mostly, been forced on him by injuries to Frans Steyn, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana. That means World Cup debuts for Odwa Ndungane and Pat Lambie, but there will be no sense of having to give every player a run during the World Cup, as White did in France in 2007. The team he sent out against Tonga in Lens was, in essence, a dirt-trackers side, which almost came undone. Caps may be hard to come by in 2011, and that is no bad thing. Would de Villiers give all 30 in the squad a run?

"I don't know. I don't think so. We should use the opportunity to sharpen the guys first. We had eight weeks of no rugby, then two weeks of rugby, then three weeks of no rugby. In between we had injuries on Bakkies and Victor. We must do the right things.

"We must play every guy as if we are playing a final."

De Villiers believed Fiji would be more structured than we might think as many of their players play in the northern hemisphere in very structured set-ups. The need for the Springboks to improve is paramount:

"The thing I did like about our game against Wales was how you could see our plans and structures working well in the two tries. Our pool is tough ..."

Wellington, 6pm today

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Patrick Lambie
JP Pietersen
Jaque Fourie
Frans Steyn
Odwa Ndungane
Morne Steyn
Fourie du Preez
Pierre Spies
Schalk Burger
Heinrich Brusssow
Danie Rossouw
Bakkies Botha
Jannie du Plessis
John Smit (c)
G. Steenkamp
Reserves: Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawrira, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Pienaar, Juan de Jongh.

Kini Murimurivalu
Vereniki Goneva
Gaby Lovobalavu
Seremaia Bai
Naipolioni Nalaga,
WS. Luveniyali
Nemia Kenatale
Sakiusa Matadigo
Akapusi Qera
DM. Waqaniburotu
Wame Lewaravu
Leone Nakarawa
Deacon Manu (c)
Sunia Koto
Campese Ma'afu
Reserves: Talemaitoga Dautu Tuapati, Waisea Nailago, Netani Edward Talei, Sisa Koyamaibole, Vitori Tomu Buatava, Nicky Little, Ravai Susau Fatiaki.


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