Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
2 minute read
10 Nov 2017
2:55 pm

Underdog Springboks might have to go ugly against the Irish

Rudolph Jacobs

With questions over the backline, Allister Coetzee's troops have to bank on a powerful pack to create opportunities in Dublin.

Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth will have to lead the pack's charge. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile/Gallo Images)

The going is expected to get very tough for the Springboks in Dublin when they open their European tour against Ireland on Saturday evening.

The Boks might have gained a lot of confidence from their last outing against the All Blacks at Newlands, but the team under captain Eben Etzebeth have still got to prove they can rise above mediocrity when playing away from home.

Better Bok teams than the current one have lost four of the last six outings in Dublin.

Coach Allister Coetzee rightfully claimed the underdog tag and even though the Boks are expected to take the heat to the home team up front, it’s in the back division where there are some serious issues.

There is a big question mark over inside centre Damian de Allende and the weak defensive channel between him and flyhalf Elton Jantjies, which could be targeted by that abrasive ball-carriers such as Irish hooker and skipper Rory Best and his fired-up comrades.

It’s not without good reason that the Irish have picked the big former Chiefs centre Bundee Aki to make his debut.

He’ll probably be ordered to expose that potential weakness in the Bok armoury.

“They beat us here in 2014 and with an experienced coaching team and world class players, they are rightfully considered as the favourites,” said Coetzee.

“They are one of few teams in the last five years that managed to beat the All Blacks.”

There is, however, the distinct hope that the Boks can create their own path through powerful ball-carriers such as hooker Malcolm Marx and Pieter-Steph du Toit from the blindside flank.

It is expected that the Boks will go out to play the territory game and counter the rushed and flat-lying Irish defence by dragging their passionate defenders into the tight exchanges.

There is also a concern over the Bok tactical kicking game and kicking possession blindly away will suit the Irish, who believe they should have beaten the Boks in a closely contested three-match series in the Republic last June.

But the Boks won’t complain about having a New Zealand referee in Ben O’Keefe to keep the likes of No 8 CJ Stander and Best honest with their sometimes dubious antics on the ground.

Springboks pick a team to remind us how some stars have stalled

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