Rugby 24.11.2017 05:38 pm

Springboks hope for backline oomph but might not find it

Andries Coetzee will need to be adaptable for the Springboks at fullback. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Gallo Images)

Andries Coetzee will need to be adaptable for the Springboks at fullback. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Gallo Images)

Conditions in Italy are expected to be wet and cold … and that’s not a thing this group of backs handle all that well.

The Springboks have a great opportunity to set the record straight as they revisit the country which was the scene of one of the worst moments in their history.

But South Africa have sidestepped the term “revenge” this week as coach Allister Coetzee talked up Italy, who they meet in Padua.

“We respect the Italian side, they are well-coached and I know they will be up for the challenge,” said Coetzee.

“We focus on ourselves. A disciplined and clinical performance is what is needed.”

With just four players playing in their 12th consecutive Test match of the season – Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff, should he be used as a substitute – continuity hasn’t actually been as great as generally preached.

With cold and wet conditions predicted, renewed questions will be asked of the very average Bok kicking game of flyhalf Handre Pollard and fullback Coetzee.

“It would be important for our pack to again create a good platform off which to play and therefore our set-piece will be key in the expected wet conditions,” said Coetzee.

Having not yet set the world alight on tour with a 38-3 hammering by Ireland followed by a narrow 18-17 win over France, more fluency – especially in the toothless and predictable backline – will be welcomed with open arms.

Strangely, no changes were made in the backline, with flank Pieter-Steph du Toit and hooker Bongi Mbonambi the only changes up front.

Mbonambi will be keen to show he deserves his starting chance ahead of Malcolm Marx, but his work will be cut out to even remotely meet the high standards set by Marx.

The side could have done with the creativity of a Lukhanyo Am at centre but at least there is the hope that Warrick Gelant gets a decent run from the bench.

The young Bulls fullback has shown some amazing game-breaking skills in 2017.

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Part-time assistant coaches hurting Proteas and Boks’ brand

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