Can South African conditioning complement their tempo?
Is the tempo the South African teams are trying to play giving Springbok coach Allister Coetzee sleepless nights?
There has been a definite shift to play like their New Zealand counterparts. But if we can’t replicate their conditioning and fitness, it won’t matter what game plan we deploy. They will still get the better of us.
The conditioning of South Africa’s Super Rugby and international players has been poor for a number of years now, and making them step up the pace and physicality will put even more pressure on the body. There have already been a few injuries in the first couple of rounds of Super Rugby, which may or may not be related …
To play a fast-paced game you have to be well conditioned, and the coaches will have to manage the players properly, otherwise the Bok coach will again be stuck with a lot of tired players who aren’t fully committed.
But, they can’t neglect the psychological conditioning of the players as well. That is what separates the top two teams in the world at the moment. England and New Zealand don’t panic when the chips are down, and they tend to play their best rugby in the last quarter of their Test matches, because they are physically and mentally fit.
There is a need for South African teams to lift the tempo of their play and to expand the game plan. But you can’t make that transition if the players aren’t physically and mentally up to it.
Stormers must give Kolisi time to grow into captaincy
South African Super Rugby teams are always going to be judged by their results. But sometimes I think we miss golden opportunities to build a great future for the game in our country.
I was stunned by the Stormers’ decision to rest their newly appointed captain, Siya Kolisi, for the match against the Kings – only their third outing of the season.
Kolisi, the Stormers’ first black captain, needs time to stamp his authority on the team in order for them to follow him blindly in whatever direction he takes on the field. By giving another strong figure, Eben Etzebeth, the captaincy against the Kings could divide the team.
The team was divided when Bob Skinstad was given the captaincy ahead of Corné Krige. In those days some of the players followed the one and some the other, which caused factions.
I know that the Springboks have to manage their load and that they need to be rested after a certain number of matches, but they have to be careful that chopping and changing the captaincy doesn’t have a negative effect on the team going forward.
Sometimes it seems like we look for elephants to put in the room.
Did Cheetahs underestimate Sunwolves?
The match against the Sunwolves is an indication that the Cheetahs prepare for teams and not matches.
The Cheetahs were prepared for the game, but were they ready for what the game would throw at them? It is a lot like fishing – you prepare to fish a certain way, but the height of the waves or the wind will force you to adapt if you want to catch anything.
A lot of people have praised the Cheetahs’ improvement on defence this season, but I don’t think they were tested in their first two matches. So, against the hard-running Sunwolves, gaps started to appear because of the speed with which the Sunwolves played the game. They exploited the weaknesses in the Cheetahs defence.