Coetzee taking 34 players to Europe

Having learnt from last year's miserable season, Coetzee is taking 34 players to Europe

01 November 2017 - 07:25 By LIAM DEL CARME
Coach Allister Coetzee. File photo
Coach Allister Coetzee. File photo
Image: ISSEI KATO

Safety in numbers Having learnt from last year's miserable season, Coetzee is taking 34 players to Europe

By the time the Springboks run out against Ireland in Dublin on November 11 their blood-and-guts performance in their narrow defeat to the All Blacks at Newlands in Cape Town will be almost forgotten.

But coach Allister Coetzee is hoping that his team can summon the same level of courage and commitment when it faces the Irish.

"That is the challenge. We cannot accept that it is just going to happen."

Coetzee then pointed to the demands southern hemisphere teams face on an end-of-season tour, while stressing that they have learnt from last year's winless streak through Europe, which capped a miserable season.

"An end-of-year tour normally comes with different challenges, the type of game that is played, especially at the breakdown, and the referee's interpretation," he said. "I think the way we are able to adapt has improved.

"The other challenge will be the aerial game that they play. In Super Rugby, we don't face the aerial bombardment because we want to keep the ball in hand.

"If you look at a player such as [Ireland's] Conor Murray, he is a great, world-class 9. He is pinpoint accurate with his kicking. That is something we faced last year."

In that regard the Springboks are likely to receive the ball back-pedalling. They can, however, get themselves onto the front foot in other areas that Coetzee highlighted.

"Our mauling and lineouts will be crucial in the conditions over there (in Europe)," he said, before cautioning that his team's preparation might be affected by the weather.

Last year's tour was disrupted by the side losing players for matches outside the Test window.

"We lose three players because the game is outside the international window," Coetzee said about the December 2 clash against Wales in Cardiff. "That's why we've selected 34 players. They will be with us from start to finish."

The coach said the retention of what had worked, and continuity, were essential.

"Everyone apart from Lukhanyo Am has been part of training camps this year. The continuity is a big plus."

Although Coetzee wants to develop the squad by bedding down a playing system with which it is becoming increasingly familiar, results are the only currency in which international coaches trade.

"Whatever you say, you have to win Test matches for SA."

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