Adriaan Strauss has dismissed Eddie Jones’s unflattering assessment of the Springboks’ style of play ahead of the crucial clash at Twickenham, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.
On Thursday, Jones told reporters that the Boks are a predictable lot. The England coach described the South African approach as ‘chess and steroids’ and said that the hosts knew exactly what to expect in the Test on Saturday.
Of course, Jones’s comments may be part of a ploy. In a recent edition of SA Rugby magazine, former Bok coach Jake White offered some insights into Jones’s media strategies.
White said that Jones, who has worked with the Boks before, has a good understanding of the South African psyche. According to White, Jones knows that the Boks value their traditional physical strengths, but also that they can be goaded into playing more expansively if those strengths are denounced as outdated or one-dimensional.
Perhaps this is why Strauss laughed when Jones’s recent comments about the Boks were relayed to him on Friday morning. ‘That’s interesting,’ he said with a chuckle.
‘We are moving towards a way and a style that we want to play. We know that we’re not there yet, though. This is an opportunity to take a step closer.
‘We want to play a physical brand of rugby. It’s in South Africans’ DNA. We also want to adapt, though. We haven’t executed well this season, but I feel we have grown a lot.’
Strauss brushed aside suggestions that the result at Twickenham will determine whether the Boks’ 2016 season was remembered as a failure or a success.
Yet, the Boks have lost five of their nine Tests in 2016. If they lose two more on this three-Test tour, they will finish with a record of less than 50% for the calendar year.
What’s more, the recent return of two wins from six in the Rugby Championship marks 2016 as a season to forget.
Strauss highlighted England’s strengths at the maul, on defence, and with the tactical boot. Wet weather is forecast for Saturday, and so the contest will be won by the more physical and tactically astute side.
‘Both teams will need to adapt. We’re expecting them to fly up off the line and get in our faces, and to launch some contestable kicks. Their defence has been outstanding this season.’
The Bok defence, by contrast, has been shockingly bad. South Africa leaked 57 points and as many as nine tries in their last Test against the All Blacks.
‘We’ve sorted out a couple of things since that game,’ said Strauss. ‘We need to step up in terms of work rate and tackle completion. I’m confident we will get that right against a quality England side on Saturday.’
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