Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Nienaber explains Bok DNA, Pollard admits strategy is ‘unorthodox’

The world champions are under pressure after three losses and have been criticised for their style of play in recent weeks.

Despite plenty of criticism of the Springbok game-plan and style, head coach Jacques Nienaber said the world champions would stick to their DNA for Saturday’s final Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks on Australia’s Gold Coast.

The Bok style of play, which is focused on forward dominance, lots of kicking and a strong defence, has been questioned in recent weeks, with many observers wondering whether that is all the Boks have to offer.

The Boks have lost three matches in a row employing that style of rugby – although two of those losses happened late in the game after the Boks gave away a penalty – 28-26 in the first outing on the Australasian tour against the Wallabies and last week against the All Blacks, when the Boks went down 19-17.

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Nienaber said his side would always look to attack “space” but they would continue to back their DNA.

“Our players have certain physical attributes that are better than those of the players from some other countries, and we must use that (to our advantage),” said Nienaber about the Bok style of getting dominance up front.

“Every team has its strengths and weaknesses and other countries will play to what works for them.”

The Boks have always relied heavily on big packs and strong individual ball-carriers to get them on the front foot, but under Nienaber and before him, director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, a key focus has been the kicking game with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, flyhalf Handre Pollard and fullback Willie le Roux regularly sending the ball high into the sky in opposition territory.

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“We’ll always look to attack the space, but it depends what New Zealand do, how they defend (this weekend),” said Nienaber. “We’ll adapt to the picture they paint; if they load the line with defenders, the space will be at the back, or we may have to take the ball to the edges. Or, we will back our kicking game, what we’re good at.”

“Yes, we’ve lost three in a row, and if we’d managed the first Aussie game (28-26) and this last Saturday’s match (19-17) a little better, maybe brought on subs to lift the energy quicker… we were two, three minutes away from winning those games.”

Pollard added: “We trust our process, our plan. It is a bit different, a bit unorthodox I guess. In the aerial contest I think we’re the best in world, and we trust that plan.”

The flyhalf added that even though the Boks have lost three matches in a row they will continue to believe in and back their system.

“We have so much belief in our process, and confidence in each other, and we don’t look back,” he said.

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