The Springboks are wary of Italy’s tactics at the mauls and breakdowns following last year’s shock loss in Florence. JON CARDINELLI in Padua reports.
The Boks will go into the clash at the Stadio Euganeo as favourites. They beat a poor France side in Paris last week. Meanwhile, Italy went down to Argentina to record their ninth loss in the last 10 games.
The Boks won’t underestimate the Azzurri, though. Last year, Italy smashed the Boks at the breakdowns and got the better of the South Africans at the maul. Those efforts culminated in a historic 20-18 victory for the hosts.
‘They maul very well,’ Bok forward coach Matt Proudfoot conceded on Tuesday. Italy will look to disrupt the Boks in this area, and No 8 Sergio Parisse will be a key player in this regard.
‘Parisse is very intelligent,’ Proudfoot added. ‘He gets under your skin. He targets your jumper.
‘They look to upset your support players with how they get numbers in on each supporter. If you can be focused on setting that maul base and absorbing that pressure, you can really push back. We did that well in the second half in Paris.’
The Boks should expect another scrap at the breakdown. Ireland overpowered and outsmarted the South Africans at the rucks two weeks ago. The tourists weren’t especially clinical in this area in Paris. They will need to be on point against Italy.
‘The line speed is something that has upset our attack,’ said Proudfoot. ‘The ability of their forwards to carry and recycle.
‘We’ve simulated that intensity in training. We did that today, going into contact and working hard to recycle the ball.
‘In the southern hemisphere, we tend to rely on cleaners to recycle the ball. Up here, it’s the work the ball-carrier does in contact that counts. That’s an area we’ve been focusing on, and I’m sure we will get reward.’
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP Photo