Nizaam Carr has revealed the Stormers’ plans to nullify Brumbies flank David Pocock in the coming clash at Newlands. JON CARDINELLI reports.
It’s been nearly five years since the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 20-6 in the 2011 World Cup semi-final. The scoreline suggests that that contest was one-sided. Indeed, the winning margin may have been greater had the All Blacks converted all of their attempts at goal.
What many may have forgotten about that contest is how the All Blacks went about neutralising David Pocock and ultimately winning the breakdown battle. In 2011, Pocock was the best openside flank in world rugby. His performances at the World Cup only served to enhance his reputation at the breakdown.
In the semi-final, however, the All Blacks managed to negate Pocock’s influence. New Zealand targeted Pocock in the Wallabies defensive line. They forced him to make the first tackle knowing full well that he would have to roll away thereafter. And so, Pocock enjoyed few opportunities to steal or slow opposition possession.
Five years on, and the Stormers are looking to take a leaf out of the All Blacks’ playbook. Carr, who recently made the switch from No 8 to openside flank, says that the Stormers should enjoy similar success.
‘Pocock likes to be the second player [to arrive at the defensive breakdowns]. If we can target him with our ball carriers and make sure he’s the first tackler, perhaps we can get some clean ball on attack,’ Carr said.
‘Having said that, there will be 14 other Brumbies players as well as reserves to consider. I’m looking forward to the challenge [of going head to head with Pocock], but we realise that there are other threats across their team.’
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said on Monday that Carr has made great strides as an openside flank. Carr admitted that the transition from No 8 to 6 has not been easy.
‘The coach and I had a good chat about it. I suppose some people might say that the Stormers have been playing without a specialist openside flank, and maybe they are right. For me, it was about changing my game plan to play towards the ball, and making that mental shift.’
The Stormers currently sit atop the Africa 1 conference, and at second in the African group. That could change over the next two weeks if the Cape side loses to the Brumbies and Jaguares. The latter match will be played in Buenos Aires.
‘This match against the Brumbies is a vital game for us,’ said Carr. ‘I don’t want to put too much pressure on us as a team, but we need a win this weekend.’
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