‘We’re trying to develop our attacking game’ – Rassie Erasmus unpacks the Tony Brown influence on the Springboks

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Springboks captain Siya Kolisi and Tony Brown.

Split with Springboks captain Siya Kolisi and Tony Brown.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus outlined how the side are looking to improve their attack after beating Ireland 27-20 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The win was their first over Ireland since 2016 as they scored two tries on the day while bagging a penalty try and points from Handre Pollard’s boot.

New attack

Many thought the Springboks would have employed the same approach that won them the World Cup last year and, while they did for the most part, the South Africans tried to play a much more expansive style on attack which had Tony Brown’s fingerprints all over it.

Kurt-Lee Arendse’s try in the opening minutes showcased how the new Springboks attack guru wants the side to play. Outside of that not all of their attacking plays stuck but Erasmus is conscious of how fans want the side to be more bold when going forward and admits there will be mistakes as the team evolves.

“I hope you can see we’re trying to develop our attacking game with the foundation that Felix (Jones) laid. With Tony (Brown) we’re trying to step up a little in certain areas and with that comes mistakes and lack of cohesion,” Erasmus said.

“But saying that Ireland are not No 2 in the world for nothing and their defensive system is really sound. It was a very stop-start game, there was a two-minute delay here with either an injury or someone getting treated – it was no one’s fault – but for both teams it hampered momentum.”

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Players enjoying new approach

Big ball carriers in the wider channels also featured in Brown’s new system with skipper Siya Kolisi one of the beneficiaries of that, as was Pieter-Steph du Toit. The inspirational leader insists the Springboks will only improve on attack.

“I’m really enjoying the way coach Tony is getting the team to attack as a group so I really enjoyed getting the ball in my hand today. We’re going to get better each week; we are still learning what coach Tony wants us to do but it is only going to get better,” Kolisi said.

Prep for next week

Erasmus expects Ireland to study up on their new approach and feels the Springboks need to do the same having conceded three tries.

“Ireland will work out what we tried to do tonight, and we’re going to try and work out what they did because they also scored three tries,” the head coach said.

“Next week I’ll expect the same from them – they’ll never give up and they’ll try to be more dominant. They’ll be more settled in the second test – they were disrupted with injuries – but even when Cheslin scored his try [to make it 20-8] to put us in a strong position, they didn’t give up and even to the last second we were nervy about the game.”

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