Boks' decision making must improve

Date published: August 17 2014

Springbok flank Francois Louw said his team needed to work on their decision making following Saturday's narrow win over Argentina.

In one of very few positives the Springboks will take from their Rugby Championship victory over Argentina on Saturday, fetcher Francois Louw again highlighted his value as both decision maker and leader in the squad.

The Bath loose-forward was named Man-of-the-Match for his efforts at a rain-drenched Loftus Versfeld, but he was also the first to admit that his team failed at adapting to the conditions they were experienced in the South African capital as they banked a 13-6 victory.

Asked where the Boks need to up their game as they build towards their goal of winning the World Cup in England next year, Louw said that their on-field decision making would have to improve.

“I think it is that immediate mind shift and that adaptation to the conditions (is something we need to work on),” said Louw.

“The gameplan is slightly different when it is wet – we needed to tightening up and play a bit more of a kicking game, so it is that mindset change and the execution that really makes a difference in the end.

“At times we did that, but we could have been a bit sharper and is something we need to work on.

As a man who plies his trade at club level in conditions that are often soggy, Louw said was not entirely convinced that he had an advantage over his South African based team-mates, although he did admit that the persistent rain reminded him of a few matches he has played in in the UK over the last few years.

“It was standard (to an afternoon at Bath) – the only difference is that we have a little bit more mud over there,” he joked.

“I'm not sure (whether that experience helped), obviously I have been playing a lot of wet weather rugby so I think at times perhaps it did, but at the end of the day it is more of a team mindset when it comes to conditions.”

Louw highlighted that keeping it simple becomes all the more important when it is as wet and that it could be part of the reason why the Springboks weren't as effective at set-phase – line-outs in particular – as they would have wanted to be.

“We definitely didn't execute as well as we wanted too, it was tough at times and Argentina put up a good fight there,” he explained.

“Line-out wise it is always difficult in these conditions, you try and simplify your options a bit which give them a more of a chance to get in there and get a hand on the ball.”

The Springbok pack also suffered a late setback when stalwart flanker Willem Alberts was withdrawn from the matchday 23 at the last hour.

Louw felt that the late omission of the blind-side flanker had disrupted to the team's ambitions on the day, but would not be told that the fact that the Bok forwards failed to dominate their opponents could be attributed to the absence of one man.

“Willem is a fantastic player. He is the enforcer of South African rugby and the performances he has put in over the past few years speak for itself,” said Louw.

“It was a setback in a sense, but one thing Heyneke gas created is depth within the squad. For guys to step in at the last moment on the 11th hour and I really think Marcel Coetzee put his hand up.

“He is not a youngster – he is a veteran to a certain extent and has played enough Test rugby to know what is going on.”

The Springboks have in the meantime drafted Lions captain Warren Whitely into the squad as loose-forward cover and on that front Meyer said that the call-up was just reward for the way the player had conducted himself.

“Warren has lead his team with distinction and is a natural eighthman who has an incredible work rate,” said Meyer.

“Due to the restrictions we have because of the long travel to Argentina – we will only have two field sessions before out next game, I doubt that he will feature in the team this week, but we should make use of those skills he developed on the Sevens circuit at a later stage.”

By Michael Mentz at Loftus Versfeld