Joe Schmidt: Springboks have ‘real talent’ outside of traditional strengths

Jared Wright
Springboks centre Damian de Allende and Wallabies boss Joe Schmidt.

Springboks centre Damian de Allende and Wallabies boss Joe Schmidt.

Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt is relishing the challenge of tackling the world champion Springboks in the Rugby Championship later this year.

Schmidt was part of the All Blacks coaching team that was beaten in the final by the Springboks at the 2023 Rugby World Cup and is aware of the threats that they pose.

The two sides will clash in the opening two rounds of the Rugby Championship later this year in back-to-back Tests in Brisbane and Perth.

Springboks’ strengths

Schmidt, who replaced Eddie Jones as head coach of the Wallabies ahead of the 2024 international season, says that the All Blacks were not only disappointed by the result of the final and highlighted what makes the Springboks such a difficult team to beat.

“It is a challenge [facing the Springboks]; the last game they played I was in the opposition coaching box, and we felt pretty disappointed at the end, not just with the result but with some of the things that happened during the game,” he told reporters in Perth.

“They’re just so difficult to break down. They stay in the game really well and they’re incredibly physical. They try to suffocate you and have a really strong set-piece, and they have some very big men.”

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While the Springboks are renowned for their traditional strengths – physicality and set-pieces – Schmidt adds that they are not as one-dimensional as many believe.

“Standing next to Whitey [Nic White] today, it’s not the same size as they are a lot, a lot bigger but they have some real gifted players as
well,” the ex-Ireland coach added.

“People think about South Africa as a big team bludgeoning their way to victory but with guys like Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse, they have some real whippets.

“Even Damian de Allende has got some real talent around his kicking and passing game but he’s pretty good at going forward as well.”

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Battle in Perth

The second Test match between the Wallabies and Springboks in 2024 will be played in Perth, where many South African expats reside.

While the Boks are bound to get plenty of support in the city, Schmidt hopes that the Wallabies’ fans will drown them out.

“There’s a big South African influence here in Perth, so I’ve no doubt they’ll have a bit of support but I’d like to think that we can drown that out a little bit by green being beaten by gold, so hopefully people get along wearing their gold jerseys and in full voice,” he said.

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