Julian Redelinghuys is set to start his first Test when the Springboks come up against Argentina in this Saturday’s encounter at the Mbombela Stadium. CRAIG LEWIS reports from Nelspruit.
At the first press conference of the week on Monday, Allister Coetzee made no secret of the fact that Redelinghuys had his full backing to take over from injured Frans Malherbe, who has been the incumbent tighthead prop since last year’s World Cup.
‘Julian is quite a humble guy, but I can say that I’m really happy with his progress. He does his primary job really well at scrum time, but his work rate for a tighthead prop is also so good. That’s the difference between an average player and a very good one. He’s extremely hard-working, has great timing when running on to the ball and boasts a very good skill set. Julian’s done very well and this will be a great opportunity for him to get a start.’
Coetzee said they had been pleased with the review of their scrumming performance after the three-Test series against Ireland in June, with the Bok coach reporting that only one scrum had really let them down.
Nevertheless, this set piece is inevitably one of the talking points in the lead-up to a Test against Argentina, with the Pumas remaining renowned for their scrumming prowess, which has often been seen as an area where they can gain the ascendancy.
From the start of Coetzee’s tenure, he has championed the importance of the Boks prioritising the set piece as one of the fundamental strengths of their game, and he again drove that point home on Monday.
‘We know that Argentina will look to get dominance in that area, and then that allows the free-flowing stuff to start from there. We are under no illusions that we need to establish set-piece dominance and gainline ascendancy. We were pleased with the scrums [against Ireland], especially on our ball, but there were times we were caught on the hop a bit on our defensive scrum. So it is an area we will continue to work on.’
After five appearances off the bench for the Boks, Redelinghuys said he was really looking forward to testing himself against the might of the Pumas scrum.
‘It’s one area they [Argentina] always focus on heavily, they love their scrum and it’s where they pose a massive threat. But we need to focus on what we need to do, and to ensure we’re prepared for a massive challenge. It’s something we want to embrace and enjoy.
‘We know that if Argentina get ahead at scrum time, they will take a real positive energy out of it, and it needs to be the same for us. The scrum is definitely one part of the game where we can gain confidence and energy, but it’s a key aspect of the game where we do back ourselves.’
The Boks will train at the Mbombela Stadium this week, with their match-day squad set to be announced on Thursday.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images