De Kock: ‘If there is one team who can unpick Bok defence, it’s the Wallabies’


Neil de Kock scores a try for Saracens in 2016. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Former Springbok scrumhalf Neil de Kock reckons the Wallabies are one team in world rugby that can “unpick” the Bok defence.

Neil de Kock scores a try for Saracens in 2016. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Under the guidance of director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and head coach Jacques Nienaber, the Springboks have developed a staunch defensive system, conceding only 15 tries in their last 18 Tests.

De Kock, who played 10 Tests for the Springboks between 2001 and 2003, wrote in a column for the Rugby Pass website that he saw similarities between the Bok defence and that of English outfit Saracens, whom he represented 264 times.

De Kock wrote: “Nienaber, who started as a physiotherapist, has morphed into a defensive mastermind. Line-speed as well as physicality at the breakdown and contact at the collisions are key ingredients in Nienbaber’s defensive recipe. By all accounts, if you are winning the collisions and stopping momentum – which the Boks have been doing – then getting off the line is so much.

“I suppose there are similarities between Saracens and the Springboks on a defensive front but I wouldn’t say one mirrors the other.

“Our Wolfpack defence, which earned mythical status, was underpinned by aggressive line-speed, sound decision-making and tactical adaptability. In terms of when to drift and when to blitz, it became a feel thing for us as players on the field. It was always a case of getting off the line but similarly, it came back to the way I see the Springboks dominate on defence – through the collisions.”

De Kock, who first made his mark in South Africa for Western Province and the Stormers, added that he felt the Wallabies were the team that could expose the Bok defence.

“The Boks bring a brutal physicality to the field but it’s always in a disciplined and well-organised system, which makes it so frustrating for teams to break down. However, if there is one team in world rugby who can unpick the Bok defence, it’s the Wallabies – who employ a multi-phase approach.

“For Australia, it’s about the speed of their ball. They are going to look around channel one and two to unlock the Boks’ aggressive rush defence and have been pretty cute with over-throws at the back of the lineout and have introduced some really interesting first-phase plays around scrum-time. I have also been impressed with 22-year-old scrumhalf Tate McDermott, who snipes around the fringes, and I expect him to be a catalyst in terms of trying to expose South Africa closer to and around the ruck. It’s about trying to get a defender to bite and then putting someone into a half-gap.”

De Kock, 42, played for Maties before getting his first taste of senior rugby at the Griffons in 1999. He represented Western Province between 2000 and 2006, before playing 11 years at Saracens.

Remaining Rugby Championship fixtures:

5 September

At Optus Stadium, Perth

Australia v New Zealand

12 September

At Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

New Zealand v Argentina

South Africa v Australia

18 September

At Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Argentina v New Zealand

Australia v South Africa

25 September

At Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville

Australia v Argentina

New Zealand v South Africa

2 October

At Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

Argentina v Australia

South Africa v New Zealand

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