Pretoria – The Springboks not only have the side to win the World Cup, but they have the defensive system that can help them achieve this, former Springbok captain Warren Whiteley believes.
Whiteley has been adamant that the rush defence has been such an asset to the Boks thus far this year that it could easily be their catalyst on the way to the World Cup and certainly makes them a much more daunting prospect for any opponent than 18 months back.
Whiteley believes while there have been some defensive lapses, the Boks were exceptional over the Rugby Championship and have proved themselves ahead of the World Cup.
“I think our defence has been amazing. That has been a turning point with our side in the last two years and that is how we beat the All Blacks last year in Wellington. We are creating a lot of defensive pressure and that defensive pressure is giving us turnover opportunities. Those turnover opportunities are where we are scoring tries at the moment,” he said at the launch of the Invictus Springbok medallion in Fourways.
While there have been some questions on players shooting out of line, Whiteley believes the game against New Zealand showed how comfortable the Boks are with their defensive line, and with the scramble defence if someone does break the line.
“Guys are shooting out of line, but we want to put skillset under pressure and that is the heart of the matter. Attacking lines are so good these days, if you think of the New Zealanders and their skillset, if you give them space and you give them time to make a decision, nine times out of ten they are going to make the right decision and they are going to score tries. So you need to put that skillset under pressure.
“The only way is by coming off the line hard, and that is what (defensive) coach Jacques (Nienaber) is good at doing. Yes it took some time, if you think back to when we played the test match series v England. But we have seen in the last couple of games the fruit of that work coming through.”
Whiteley also believes that Bok captain Siya Kolisi is ready to take his place in the Bok squad again after a great performance against Argentina in his first test back from injury.
“Siya was phenomenal when he came on and he played. We must remember he is coming back from injury and the amount of pressure he is under as a Springbok captain. All eyes are on him and for him to still perform like he did is brilliant.
“I think he will start for us as captain, probably with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen. Flo (Francois Louw) has been really effective off the bench. Probably Flo off the bench is where my mind is going now, if I had to shoot a loose trio for that first test match against New Zealand.”
The Bok World Cup squad will be named on Monday in Johannesburg.
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