Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport


How will the Boks respond? Nienaber’s week of big decisions

The Boks' game-plan needs attention, while certain personnel changes should also be on the cards.


What will the Springboks’ response be this week?

That is the big question now following the side’s 25-17 defeat to Australia in a Rugby Championship match in Adelaide on Saturday?

And some of the answer may come as soon as Tuesday when coach Jacques Nienaber names his team for the second match of the Boks’ trip Down Under, against the same team in Sydney, this weekend.

Will Nienaber make the tough, but necessary calls, to freshen up the side after crashing to defeat on Saturday — their second loss in a row after also going down to the All Blacks in Joburg earlier this month.

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The opening Rugby Championship win against the All Blacks in Mbombela now seems so long ago. After a promising start to the competition, the Boks have flopped badly; their slow starts and inability to finish off chances created leaving Nienaber stumped.

“It’s frustrating how many chances we created and didn’t convert. It happened against Wales (in July) and against the All Blacks (two weeks ago) and now again … we were in Australia’s 22m area about 13 times and didn’t come away with points a lot of the time.”

Answers

Nienaber will be looking for answers to be more lethal with ball in hand because while the Boks lost on Saturday, they were not quite outplayed. The Boks dominated many areas of the contest, including the number of ball carries made (92 to 82), the number of defenders beaten (24 to 14) and clean breaks made (seven to four).

Also, the Boks made 104 tackles, and missed 14; the Wallabies made 95 and missed 24. The Boks also only conceded nine penalties to the Wallabies’ 16.

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It is clear if the Boks show greater composure and perhaps creativity and patience they have the game to register what would be just a sixth win out of 34 matches between the teams in Australia since 1992 this weekend.

But it may require Nienaber to make a few personnel changes. At hooker, Malcolm Marx must start, Elrigh Louw and Jasper Wiese must be considered at blindside and No 8 while Andre Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie should also get a look-in at the back. Deon Fourie could also come into the mix.

The Boks have moved from Adelaide to Sydney, where they will face the Wallabies this Saturday. The team for the match will be announced Tuesday.

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