Bok defence coach John McFarland said today in Fourways that national coach Heyneke is big on conditioning and it could serve them well ahead of their departure tomorrow to the northern hemisphere for Tests against Ireland, England, Italy and Wales.
“On average, the ball is in play for 33 minutes, but against Australia in Cape Town it was as high as 48 minutes, and I remember how excited the management were that we came through to score the bonus point in the end, so in that case the the ball was 33% more in play,” he said.
It resulted in a 28-10 win over the Wallabies but more was to come when the Boks beat New Zealand 27-25 in a nail-biter at Ellis Park a week later.
“At Ellis Park we suffered a bit towards the latter stages of the match after making 180 tackles, but New Zealand made 270, so in terms of that, Heyneke has put a massive emphasis on conditioning, so it’s definitely something that has improved.”
But McFarland said they needed to study Ireland thoroughly, a team who the Boks only managed to beat 16-12 the last time they played them in 2012.
“Ireland are really well organised,” McFarland said. “I’ve looked at them over the last six months or so and what struck me was their defensive organisation and the clear purpose going about what they do.
“They are certainly right up there with the best teams in the world and it will be a big challenge.”
And with the likelihood of playing in the wet and winter conditions, McFarland said they have had their fair share of that, having opened their campaign with a 13-6 win the Rugby Championship at a soaked Loftus.
“This year we played three games in the wet, but nothing like Pretoria. That was freakish. In Australia it rained, but if you look at that match we kept Australia in their half,” he said.
“Ewen McKenzie (Wallaby coach) actually said it to me, they couldn’t get out of their half, for 30 minutes, we kept them there, so the nice thing is we can play in a variety of ways.”