Strauss challenges Bok forwards
Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has “challenged” his forwards to repeat their performance in Dunedin when they face Australia in their Castle Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Strauss said the forward pack had shown enough promise in Dunedin against the World Champion All Blacks to know they had improved significantly since the start of the season, but the onus was now on them to ensure that progress continued.
The Bok pack surprised the All Blacks and dominated them in both the loose and tight phases, and produced a performance far beyond their inexperience as a unit.
Back at home, with the Highveld spurring them on and renewed hope that they are moving forward with both their game plan and their development as a squad, Strauss says he wants to see both himself and his teammates take another step up this weekend at Loftus.
“When you perform like that, you put yourself out there,” Strauss says, “It’s more of a challenge to us to do it again. We want to do well at home.
“After any performance like that, you challenge the guys for the next weekend. We know Australia will be tough but we need to be up for the challenge this weekend again.
“We know we’re heading in the right direction, we believe in what coach Heyneke Meyer is trying to implement, we’ve been working hard and we know what we want to do.”
Strauss knows the pressure is still on the Boks, even though the changes in the team may have given them some breathing space. However, with that now comes a weight of expectation. The Boks are expected by their fans to beat Australia and reverse a five-game losing streak at a venue the Wallabies have never won at.
Strauss knows the team is looking a lot better at handling this pressure, the precise type that coach Meyer wants them to be able to handle. That in itself is the difference between good and great international rugby teams.
“There’s always going to be that pressure. There are always going to be those vital moments and you need to handle it well,” he explains, adding that each player in the pack knows his responsibility to the nation.
“As a leader, especially in this pack of forwards, it is a lot easier now. The guys keep putting up their hands, some of them don’t say much, but they are all pulling their weight. It has never been an issue to say anything to them to motivate them.”
Strauss knows the Boks will need to front up against a clever Aussie pack on Saturday and lay a platform that can give their young flyhalf Johan Goosen ball on the front foot.
They know history, and the venue are on their side, but will still need to lay a platform that is tough for the Aussies to counter.
It won’t be easy, but if they can repeat the heroics of Dunedin up front, they will have done their job. Hopefully, unlike in Dunedin, the backs and kickers do theirs with the chances they get.