No panic in Bok ranks
Francois Louw has been called into the South Africa squad after the Springboks were, by their own admission, bullied at the breakdown by Argentina in their recent Rugby Championship clash, but the openside flank said that there was ‘no panic’ in the team ahead of the their test against Australia in Perth on Saturday.
Louw played the last of his 10 tests when he turned out against the Wallabies in the World Cup quarterfinal in Wellington last year and he currently plies his trade with English club Bath.
But when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer placed a call to Louw after South Africa’s 16-all draw with Argentina in Mendoza, the 27-year-old loose forward had no hesitation in accepting the offer of playing for his country once again.
“It is very exciting, it is a massive honour. Getting called back to represent your country is a huge situation to be in and I’m just happy to be with the boys now,” he told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.
“There is no sense of panic at all (in the squad) and everything is not going to be thrown out of the window. The most important thing is to stay on task, have composure, work on your mistakes and try and fix those errors and advance on things that you did well on the weekend,” Louw said of the squad that he joined for the first time under Meyer’s leadership.
Louw may not have been part of the Springboks' season this year but he was an interested viewer when South Africa beat the Pumas in Cape Town before just managing to secure a draw in Mendoza.
“They did well in the first game to get the victory while the draw in Mendoza was not an ideal outcome, but that just shows how tough this tournament is and that Argentina is not a side that you can take lightly.
“A game like that is going to be a wake-up call and that is something that we as a team can feed off of going into the last four games.”
Louw is expected to start off the bench against Australia at the newly renamed Patterson’s Stadium, formally the Subiaco Oval, but he said that his time with Bath had helped him to grow as a player.
“There is a whole different culture over in the UK. The rugby is different. People often compare southern and northern hemisphere styles of rugby and they are different but not to say that one is better than the other.
“I’ve been introduced to a new dimension of rugby. You constantly evolve as a rugby player so to be introduced to different styles, new players and new schools of thought surrounding the game have broadened my perspective on the game.”
The former Stormers loose forward conceded that Australia would pose a different challenge than what he was used to in European rugby but emphasised that the basics of the game remain the same.
“Australia will bring a different type of game to what I have been used to for the last few months but in terms of being a loose forward your role is the same. You have to hunt those breakdowns, you have to make your tackles and you have to provide options for the backs,” he explained.
Louw’s role will be as much to protect his own team’s ball as it is to steal Australia’s ball, and he said that it was critical that any openside flank was as accurate as possible at the breakdown.
“It is an area where you have to be 100 percent sure about what you are doing. It is a fine line that you walk and to be effective you have to sit on that line but it is a difficult thing to do and you will be punished for any little mistake and then you are three points behind again,” he concluded.