Gatland: ‘Set-piece will be crucial’

Date published: October 15 2015

Wales coach Warren Gatland is under absolutely no illusions about the enormity of the task that lies ahead of his team at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wales, who qualified second in Pool A will play against two-time champions South Africa in the quarter-final of the World Cup and Gatland understands that his players will have to be competent during the set phases against a team which take tremendous pride in its ability to execute them.

The Wales coach knows the Springboks will be physical and difficult to break down.

"They are an incredibly physical team up front," said Gatland. 

"We have got to match them at scrum time and in the driving line-out," added Gatland.

"We have to scrummage well. With South Africa, they go back to what works for them: A strong scrum and an attacking line-out. The set piece is going to be pretty important for us."

However, this Springboks team is expected to be a touch more dynamic than outfits Gatland has played against before. In years gone by much has been said about South Africa's defensive prowess.

However, with a new and young centre pairing, the expectation is that there might be a little more venom on the attack, even though this will be a knockout fixture.

"I like the mix of their two young midfielders. They are exciting for the future. They have a good mix and a nice balance," said Gatland of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, who will start in the midfield for the Boks this weekend.

When the South Africans started their campaign, they encountered somewhat of a speed wobble against Japan in Pool B. However, since that defeat the team has looked ominous and indications are that they will get stronger as the tournament progresses. 

"They have got over the shock of losing to Japan (in the pool stages) and that has galvanized them as a team and a squad. They are going to be a tough proposition," said Gatland.