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Jon Cardinelli

Boks target Warburton


Springbok flank Francois Louw at training Springbok flank Francois Louw at training

The Springboks will need to win the race to the breakdown this Saturday if they're going to neutralise one of the best openside flankers in the game, reports JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff.

So says Francois Louw, who is himself one of the form fetchers in world rugby.

On Tuesday, Louw highlighted the threat of Warburton at the breakdowns. He explained that the Wales skipper has the ability to slow the ball down at the tackle and ultimately stall the momentum of the opposition's attack.

THE WELSH CHALLENGE

The Boks will need to adapt to the conditions this Saturday. In less than 12 hours, the weather has turned foul, with the mercury plummeting and formidable rainclouds taking residence over the Welsh capital.

But above and beyond adjusting to the weather, the Boks will need to adapt to the challenge that Wales will bring at the breakdown.

'The game is far more of a contest in the northern hemisphere,' said Louw, who plays his club rugby for English side Bath. 'It's a slower contest but it can be fierce and physical, and there's a lot more counter-rucking. Decision-making [in this area] is more important than ever.

'Sam is a great player, and as we've seen he's especially good at slowing the ball down. He will be a key player for Wales this Saturday, and we have to ensure that we get to the ruck first and clear him away.'

INSIDE INFO

Louw himself has enjoyed a great run of form since rejoining the Boks in August 2012. His return to international rugby boosted the Boks' breakdown performances at the back-end of the 2012 Rugby Championship, and he followed that up with some dominant displays on the end-of-year tour.

In 2013, he has once again been the go-to man, and in Louw, Willem Alberts, and Duane Vermeulen the Boks possess one of the most versatile back rows on the planet.

On Monday, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer acknowledged the role that Louw has played in the revival. Meyer also underlined the benefit of having a player who competes in these conditions on a regular basis.

Louw understands the way the game is played and refereed in this region, and has brought his team-mates up to speed. The introduction of specialist coach Richie Gray has also resulted in a marked improvement to the Boks' breakdown approach.

The Scot joined the Boks last June, and now on a three-Test tour to the northern hemisphere, his input will be more valuable than ever.

'We've certainly learned a lot from Richie over the past few months,' confirmed Louw. 'He brings a different perspective and complements what we have on the coaching staff already.'

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Scott Gibbs: Wales set for another Bok beating

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Heyneke Meyer: Bok tour will be World Cup trial

Sean Edwards: Wales have to muscle up against Boks

Bring on the weather, says Bok coach

Bok tour preview

Photo: Jason Oxenham/Getty Images

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