Ireland brace for Bok physicality

Lock Ultan Dillane says Ireland will have ‘no fear’ as they prepare to face a physical confrontation with the Springboks on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

While the Boks are set to field a relatively new-look backline at Newlands, there will be plenty of experience up front. From the pack that faced the All Blacks in last year’s World Cup semi-final, it appears the only changes will see Adriaan Strauss starting at hooker in place of Bismarck du Plessis, while Siya Kolisi is in line to replace injured Schalk Burger at No 7.

There is no doubt the Springboks should feel they have the necessary firepower to gain the ascendancy up front, but Dillane said they couldn’t afford to be intimidated by the prospect of an expected onslaught in the forward exchanges.

‘The Boks have plenty of experience in their pack with guys like [Duane] Vermeulen, [Beast] Mtawarira, [Francois] Louw and [Eben] Etzebeth, but we’re really buzzing for that challenge … It’s in no way going to be an easy task on Saturday, and we know we’re in for a massive test physically, but we have to be ready for it. There’s no fear there.’

The Springboks will also recall that the last time they took on the Irish in Dublin at the end of 2014, the hosts employed some savvy tactics up front, and were able to come away with a convincing result.

Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby suggested it was necessary to complement brains with brawn if they hoped to make their mark up front on Saturday.

‘In order to overcome a team [like the Boks], I think you have to be as physical as them, and even be able to outmuscle them, but you also have to play smart rugby. I think we had a combination of those things in November 2014, but that’s two years ago. Nevertheless, we know our physicality will need to be right up there again on Saturday.

‘Physicality is something South African rugby has always prided itself on, but so do the Irish,’ he added. ‘The players will need to be mentally prepared and get all their little roles spot on so that they can go and do their jobs with intensity.’

Ireland boast three South-African born players among their forwards, with CJ Stander, Quinn Roux and Richardt Strauss set to come up against their former countrymen in Cape Town, and Easterby admitted it would provide a little added motivation for the trio.

‘CJ has shown his form for the past few years with Munster and has been a real talisman for them. He’s now come into our Six Nations squad and done really well, he’ll be emotional, as will Quinn and Richardt, guys who are very passionate about where they grew up, but who are also very passionate about wearing the green of Ireland. You get a sense that they’re very keen to show the country where they were born what they’re missing.’

Photo: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Post by

Craig Lewis