Here we look at what the Boks need to do to turn their Rugby Championship competition around, when they face the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
1 Make the most of Loftus
The Boks have faced Australia at the Pretoria ground on five previous occasions, winning all of them. In 1997 South Africa scored their highest ever total number of points against Australia (61), an indication the Boks enjoy playing at the ground. If conditions are good, the Boks will be able to play a fast-paced game, but for kicking purposes this will also be ideal.
2 Draw on performances
Down Under Jean de Villiers’ team dominated the opening half in Perth a few weeks ago and should have had the game just about sewn up at the break. They were impressive in most areas, bar the fact they kicked so much ball away, and will know they should have won in Dunedin against the All Blacks, too. If they take the best from those two showings they’ll be well on their way to winning.
3 Dominate the set pieces
The Wallabies are a crafty bunch when it comes to scrumming … so while they may not be the strongest, they’re technically sound and get the job done, but the Boks need to be dominators again in the scrums. And, with Andries Bekker back in the second row, the hosts should look to control the line-outs as Matfield and Co once did.
4 Kick and chase strongly
Not everyone likes it, but it appears that’s the way the Boks are going to play it … kick up-and-unders and hope the chasers put enough pressure on the receiver, win a penalty or turn-over and attack from there. Kicking away good phase ball, though, should not be the first option, but if the Boks do it, they’re going to have to be more accurate than has been the case up to now.
5 Make the right decisions
There were moments in Perth and Dunedin that had the players shown more vision and made the right calls they would have scored tries. The Boks will have to read the situations on the field better than they’ve done recently with the key men here Ruan Pienaar, Johan Goosen and Frans Steyn, should he be fit to play. Their calls will determine how the Boks go.
6 Finish off the chances
With defences as tight and organised as they are there are not too many tries going around. So when those opportunities do arise, from getting an overlap or exploiting a hole on the blindside, it is imperative to grab them. The Boks butchered good try-scoring chances overseas and it cost them dear … they can’t afford those slip-ups again.
7 Allow Goosen to play
Heyneke Meyer has made the call and gone with 20-year-old Johan Goosen, a player he believes will wear the No10 on his back for many years. The youngster is a great kicker of the ball, but he’s also a great attacker, with a good pass and great step, and let’s just hope he’ll be allowed to play his natural game. If he does, then we could be in for something special.
8 Show patience
Against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand there were moments when all three teams were under severe pressure but “white line fever” on the part of the Boks cost Meyer’s men chances of scoring more tries.
Dicey passes were also thrown overseas and there were moments of indiscipline from Eben Etzebeth and Dean Greyling which were telling.
9 Meyer’s calls
The coach is seemingly far more involved in what’s happening on the field of play than previous Bok bosses were and, as such, he, too will have to make the right decisions from up in his box. How will he use his replacements, who will be sacrificed for who … and will he be brave enough to change the tactics if they’re not working?
10 Big men must stand tall
This is a young Bok team, with six men 21 or younger, so there isn’t as much experience in the side as a year ago. There are not very many senior veterans to turn to for advice when the going gets tough, so the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pienaar, Andries Bekker, Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira must be the go-to men.
Springboks: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Frans Steyn/Jaco Taute, Francois Hougaard, Johan Goosen, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute/ Juan de Jongh, Pat Lambie.