All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says the Springboks’ defence will give them opportunities to attack in their World Cup opener in Yokohama on Saturday.
Since being coached by Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber, the Springboks have undergone a change in their defensive system. While under Alister Coetzee, the Boks favoured a passive defensive line, waiting for opposition ball-carriers to attack the line which often gave their opponents momentum.
However, under Nienaber, the Boks have changed to a system where their wings press from the outside in. This has prompted the opposition to find space on the outside, but it has also allowed the Springboks to scramble well if a linebreak is made.
In the buildup to Saturday’s Pool B opener, Hansen shone a light on the Boks’ defence saying that he was confident his side could find a way to break their opponents down.
‘Their defensive system has changed a lot. They roll the dice big time,’ Hansen said. ‘To be able to roll the dice like they do, they have got to be fit. So he [Erasmus] has got them fit.’
The Springboks defence caused havoc in the 16-16 draw in the Rugby Championship Test in Wellington earlier this year, forcing the All Blacks into an unusual number of handling errors.
‘They are good at it; very, very good at it,’ Hansen said. ‘You want them to roll a couple of ones, rather than a pair of sixes. The reason we didn’t execute better [in Wellington] was because their defence was good.
‘Are there opportunities? Yes. If there is one thing I do know, South Africa will give us opportunities because they roll the dice. Are we good enough to take them? Will the weather conditions allow us to take them? They are all things we will have to wait and see.’
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