‘Boks didn’t adapt to conditions’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the opening Rugby Championship matches.

South Africa vs Argentina

'The weather conditions were execrable today. You couldn't handle the ball, you couldn't pass it. The kicking was difficult, catching the ball was difficult and the lineouts were a complete lottery. There's no way you can analyse or be critical about this performance because it was extremely tough for the players on the field today.

'Let's take our hats off to Argentina, they really were very competitive in a game of this nature, where it was slippery and they put their bodies on the line.

'We mentioned at half-time that it was a game where you had to make sure you controlled the ball through a solid kicking game. The Springboks weren't actually accurate enough in that respect today. They kicked it quite long and allowed the Argentinians too much time. I thought their fullback [Joaquín Tuculet] had a really good game. They covered the field well and were in a good position to receive most of our kicks.

'The Boks need to develop the ability to put the ball behind the defensive line, especially when the defence is flat and comes up fast. They were playing off nine and couldn't really play off 10 today because it was so wet. I thought that when it did go to [Handré] Pollard, he needed someone to perhaps try hit the half gap and to use the outside of his foot to put a bit of a grubber through.

'When you look at the weather and you see the conditions you have to adapt immediately. The Springboks didn't do that today.

'The most conservative game plan would've been best today. Keep the ball in the opposition half, turn them around with accurate kicks and grubbers, but most importantly take every point you can get.

'Early on in the game the Boks were thinking maybe they could get the four tries, but perhaps they should've knocked over a few of those penalties instead of kicking for the corner. Maybe if they'd opened up a bit of a lead, the Pumas would've had to make more of the game. They would've had to run the ball from deep and the Boks could've turned it over and scored some tries. But we kept them in the game.

'It was a really tough day at the office. I think we'll learn a lot more next weekend. We'll know a little bit more about where the Boks are, and hopefully a little bit more about where Argentina are. I thought they were good today. The Argentinian side are going to go away with a bit of confidence, and playing at home [next weekend], it's going to make them even more difficult to beat.

'But the Boks are a fantastic team, and they've won away from home the whole of last year, so in dry conditions I'm sure they'll be good enough to beat the Argentinans.'

Australia vs New Zealand

'Going into the match Australia had picked their third-choice hooker [Nathan Charles]. Early on in the game you could see who had the strongest scrum.

'When you go into a game as a referee, you have to understand what teams are trying to do. Today I thought the All Blacks were really hard done by. They have a very strong pack and that was negated by the fact that [referee] Jaco Peyper really felt that they were taking advantage of the weaker Australian scrum.

'The Australians got out their 22 on a number of occasions with a free kick where they were really under pressure.'

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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