Trevor Nyakane and Joseph Dweba. (Photo by Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images)
- A hurting Springbok pack won’t allow the Wallabies to throw them off their scrumming rhythm in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash.
- South Africa were left frustrated by their dominance at the set-piece not being rewarded, but star loosehead Trevor Nyakane says that’s an even bigger reason to believe in their system.
- He points out that if frustrations boil over and players start to adopt reactionary tactics, then the whole system collapses.
A “hurt” Springbok pack are wary of allowing the shrewd Wallabies to drive them to distraction in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane.
South Africa were once again left exposed by their hosts’ uncanny ability to zone in on a certain few vulnerabilities and exploit it to their advantage, specifically at scrum time, where Jacques Nienaber’s troops’ ascendancy was met with no reward.
As the frustration levels grew, the Australians managed to pounce and forced a few vital if somewhat controversial penalties, none more prominent than the final scrum where the hosts overwhelmed the Bok pack by possibly scrumming in.
But star loosehead Trevor Nyakane is emphatic that the South Africans can’t be haunted by those experiences if they want to retain their Rugby Championship title.
“We don’t train to do anything weird in terms of tactics like walking around or scrumming according to a specific team. We focus on how we do things in general,” said the versatile front rower.
“Yes, it’s tough when you feel as a pack that certain things aren’t going your way and you want to take matters into your own hands. But if you try to do that, you’re running away from your system and that’s when things go pear-shaped.
“You’ll be doing something, but the rest of the pack might be doing something else and that’s when you get smashed in a scrum. We still believe our plan gives you the freedom to express yourself and find solutions to opposition tactics.”
In the end, Nyakane believes it’s simple optics like setting one up according to a referee’s instructions or being balanced and keeping one’s own weight or scrumming straight that remain the best bet for keeping oneself in contention with the men with the whistles.
“If a ref doesn’t handle certain things, it’s not our place to go around shouting things. He’s been given the job because he’s good at it and I’m there to play rugby and stay within the laws,” he said.
The 32-year-old, however, didn’t absolve his team-mates – Nyakane wasn’t included in last week’s match-23 – of any blame, particularly after the Wallabies got in a few good shoves.
“It hurts us as a pack. It doesn’t matter where or how it happens, for us, we always scrum to be dominant. Whether that’s a scrum on the halfway line or our own five-metre line, we always thrive to be dominant and get 100% scrums. It was tough to see that,” he said.
“We as a team know we have to come back, look at those pictures and try to understand what happened. We have looked at those images and it’s deep in our hearts; it’s sore, it’s buried in the back of our minds.
“We know what they are capable of. We know that they will come at us much harder than they did last week, so we are prepared for that. We know it’s not just going to be a walkover.”
Another important factor in emerging stronger from last week’s performance is not to assign individual blame.
“We can’t point out any single person and say that person did this wrong. It’s the whole group, it’s the whole pack that’s on the field. We have worked really hard this week, so we are looking forward to this challenge.
“It’s going to be a battle, but we like it tough. We will go hard at them but we know they will also do the same.”
Kick-off is at 09:05 (SA time) on Saturday.
15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse