European conditions favour Boks

Date published: November 1 2014

Springbok assistant coach John McFarland believes conditions in the Northern Hemisphere favour the South Africans.

Conditions in the Northern Hemisphere may differ significantly from those at home but Springbok assistant coach John McFarland believes they favour the South Africans.

“Ellis Park is obviously much quicker and there’s a fatigue factor that always kicks in, whereas in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a little bit slower and you need bigger guys in terms of the hitting,” McFarland said in Johannesburg as the Boks prepared to leave on their four-Test European tour starting with a clash against Six Nations champions Ireland.

“South African players are very successful in the Premiership under those conditions and if you look at how many are playing well in the European clubs, and are valued highly, it’s certainly because those conditions suit us.”

After the opening Test in Dublin, the Springboks then face England, Italy and Wales, to bring down the curtain on their international season.

The Boks will look to maintain their unbeaten record on an end-of-year tour under the guidance of Heyneke Meyer – they have won all six of their Tests since 2012.

McFarland said while they aimed to consolidate this proud record, they faced a tough Irish side in the opening game.

“In the Rugby Championship, you’ve got one, two and three in the world playing against each other. I think Ireland are fifth and they have aspirations to be even better as the Six Nations champions,” said the assistant coach.

“We’ve had a good look at them this week and they’ve got a number of strengths. They have a very experienced halfback combination, upfront Jamie Heaslip is a strong ball-carrier and Paul O’Connell is viewed as a legend of the game.”

While the Boks have shown a greater willingness to keep the ball in hand, McFarland said Ireland would not give them easy access in defence.

“They are a well organised team and have a clear purpose going about what they do, so they will be a challenge and they are certainly up there with the best in the world.”