Smith wants sharper showing

Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith has called for a more clinical attacking display against what should be an improved France defence in the second Test, reports JON CARDINELLI in Durban.

Coach Allister Coetzee is set to make one unforced change to the Boks’ starting backline this week. Jesse Kriel has been ruled out due to concussion and will, according to Coetzee himself, be replaced by Lionel Mapoe at No 13.

Speaking to the media in Durban on Tuesday, Smith said that the loss of a relatively experienced player like Kriel will be keenly felt. At the same time, Smith was impressed by the performance of the backline as a whole in the first Test, and believes that Mapoe should have no trouble slotting into a combination that boasts other Lions players like Ross Cronjé, Elton Jantjies, Courtnall Skosan and Andries Coetzee.

‘Look, we wanted some continuity in that No 13 position and it’s a pity that Jesse will not be available this week,’ said Smith. ‘It’s an important creative role and we wanted to develop those combinations [in the midfield and in the backline as a whole].

‘That said, I feel Lionel will bring some new energy to the position. I agree with Allister that Jan Serfontein should remain at No 12 and not move to 13 this week. That would mean making two changes instead of one. Lionel will come into a relatively settled side this week.’

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The Boks beat France 37-14 in Pretoria last Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The hosts scored four tries against the French, two of those in the final quarter of the contest when the visitors were reduced to 14 men.

Smith felt that the Bok attacking performance was far from perfect, though. On Tuesday, he said that the Boks ‘left four more tries on the field’. He added that the France defence should be bolstered by the return of several key players now that the Clermont and Toulon players are available for selection.

‘The good news is that we are creating space. We did leave about four tries on the field, though. We made some linebreaks and then we just didn’t finish.

‘We did have some success around the fringes [the play where Siya Kolisi broke from the ruck and sprinted upfield being the best example of that]. They probably knew that we would attack with width, and spread their defence a bit wider to combat that.

‘This week, there will be changes to the French team and I’m sure the defence will be ready for us round the fringes. The defence will be a lot tighter, so we will have to keep our options open.’

Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images

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Jon Cardinelli