Boks lean on Duane and Irishman for breakdown insight

rugby10 July 2024 08:19
By:Gavin Rich
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Duane Vermeulen © Gallo Images

One of the reasons the momentum the Springboks attained in the first half an hour of last week’s first test in Pretoria was down to the way Ireland managed to pressurise the hosts at the breakdowns, with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk coming in for close attention that wasn’t always legal.

Forewarned is fore-armed though, and the Boks have been working intensively on a plan this week to make sure it doesn’t happen in the return game at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Saturday. Two of the people who they are drawing heavily on are both well acquainted with rugby in Ireland and how the Irish do things - former Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen and the new defence coach Jerry Flannery.

Listening to Bongi Mbonambi speak, it is clear that both Vermeulen, who was a breakdown and defence guru as a player and is now taking that knowledge into his new role helping the Bok coaches, and former Ireland international and long time Munster player and coach Flannery are playing a big role in getting the Boks prepared for Kings Park.

“With the new laws coming in there is a lot of pressure on the breakdown and a lot of focus on how the players will be contesting the ball,” said Mbonambi.

“With Jerry coming in and working with Duane, trying to improve our breakdown skills, we feel we are making progress. We also have Jaco Peyper (former referee) teaching us when we can counter-ruck, when we can’t, when we are onside and when we are off-side. We are improving.

“It is something the Irish pride themselves on, shorting the rucks, getting to our scrumhalf and slowing the ball down. You would have seen how it effected our play, the way they got to Faf, so we definitely need to sort that out.

“We’ve been talking a lot to Duane. He’s been there and done that at international level and has a lot of experience, and he also played for Ulster so he knows the Irish way. Jerry has also been giving us insight into how Ireland will be preparing their breakdown for the game, how they train to attack our rucks.”