Last week in my anxious I provided some free advice to Shag about how to beat the French. I’m grateful that he followed it to the letter:
- A Quick Start
- Kicking Accuracy
- Pull The Trigger
Now that we know the All Blacks can do all those things, and the question therefore is only whether they will do all those things tomorrow morning, I have only one more sage piece of advice:
The Boks are going to be a much bigger challenge than the Frogs. It is unlikely that the score line will ever get to comfortable. Indeed, we might be behind as we go into the final quarter. There’s a high possibility of rain, which will upset stratagems, increase mistakes, introduce chaos.
This is where aerobic fitness, experience and desire can make the critical difference to the mental battle. Deciding what to do in clutch situations, and the sequence of how to do it, will be the winning and losing: just ask Chris Robshaw or Greig Laidlaw.
And it is where the bench players make their impact.
The Boks over the last two years have had a habit of fading in the last quarter, and their bench can disrupt rather than reinforce patterns. I wouldn’t be waiting for that to happen in a World Cup semi-final, but I’d be working to make it happen.
And in the contest of the minds we maybe have one not so secret advantage: A. Smith. He is by a long margin the best halfback in the world at the moment. And his opposite, Fourie du Preez, is the South African captain. If there’s a good way to put a captain off their thinking duties, it is to expose them in their own position. Make his head drop, make him have to say sorry to his own mates for a miss, and there’s an edge.
Over to you Aaron.