Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springboks will stick to core strengths against Ireland while adding something new

The Boks have lost their last three encounters with Ireland, stretching back to 2016 when they last won on home soil.

The Springboks won’t have too many surprises for the Irish when they meet in their opening Incoming Series clash at Loftus on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 5pm), but will be adding a few new things to their system in the match.

Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said that although they were instituting new things, they would stick largely to the DNA that has been working for them over the years, while trying not to be too predictable.

With two new coaches in their setup they will bring new ideas to the table, but the Boks will not stray too far from what continues to work.

“Test match rugby is very physical. That’s something that we as South Africans enjoy and don’t shy away from. There are certain things that we don’t want to negotiate in our system and how we play the game,” explained Stick.

“Especially when you look at the set pieces which is one of our (biggest) strengths and is part of DNA. I don’t think we will ever move away from that because it gives us a good foundation, even if we want to evolve and try something new.

“You still have to execute your core strengths very well, which for us is our set piece, defending well and kicking well. Because a team like Ireland is very smart and have good players.

“So we won’t drift away from our strengths, but we will continue to evolve as a team. Having new coaches in our system like Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery, they bring fresh and new ideas and that helps us introduce new things into our system and they players are buying into that.”

Ireland defeats

The Boks have lost their last three encounters with Ireland, stretching back to 2016 when they last won on home soil, while their most recent defeats in Dublin in 2022 and in the World Cup pool phase in 2023 are fueling them.

“It certainly fuels our motivation. When we faced them before in Dublin we created opportunities that could have placed us in a position to win the match. Their crowd was also always behind them,” said Stick.

“Then when we played them in Paris, we didn’t convert our chances and that kept them in the game. There were things we didn’t do well, and we learned tough lessons from that, but it also brought us tighter together as a group. In fact, a lot of what we learned helped us in the match against France (in the quarterfinal).

“So we definitely have to rectify those mistakes (from the past two games) and ensure that we perform better on Saturday because Ireland are a quality team and they have a way of taking their chances.

“That said, what happened in the past won’t count tomorrow. The reality is that against a team like Ireland you’ll probably get five chances or so and you must use them to come out on top on the scoreboard on the day.”

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