Ken Borland

By Ken Borland


Size isn’t everything, says former Springboks legend

Breyton Paulse dealt with questions over his size for years and managed well. He believes it's the same with the current Springboks wingers.

How a smaller wing responds when his opposite number is given space is the key factor when it comes to defence out wide, former Springbok great Breyton Paulse says.

Although the Springboks have registered two convincing victories over France, questions have been raised over whether the relatively small back three of Raymond Rhule (1.87m, 83kg), Andries Coetzee (1.81m, 86kg) and Courtnall Skosan (left, 1.83m, 92kg) will be able to handle the massive South Sea island wings that predominate in New Zealand and Australia.

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It is a question Paulse, who stood just 1.78 metres tall and weighed 80kg during his playing days, often had to answer himself.

But he was never disgraced during his 64 Tests.

“The key is to play smart and not be kamikaze. You have to anticipate very well and when you see space then you have to close that down as soon as possible. On the wing, you only have a one-on-one with the person you’re marking probably once or twice a game,” Paulse said at a Players’ Fund and SA Rugby Legends Association training day for the Vuka development programme.

“But you have to be aware all the time, and intelligent, like a Ben Smith. The big guys can run over you, but a smaller player has more speed so he must use it to close that space as soon as possible. But the outside centre is also key. I was fortunate to play with Jaque Fourie, who was one of the best defenders, and you get used to how each other defends.”

Paulse added that Coetzee, Rhule and Skosan faced all the All Black and Aussie wingers in Super Rugby and that there had not been major problems at that level.

“I have no worries about our back three because they play against those guys week in and week out. They’ve all faced massive wingers. Someone like Courtnall Skosan has proven himself to be lethal on both attack and defence and he’s very good in the air,” he said.

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