Boks must be braver with ball in hand – Williams

Rugby

Springboks great Chester Williams says the team must be “brave” and a lot more clinical against the big teams if they want to win the Rugby World Cup next year.

The Boks have lost their past two Test matches, against New Zealand and England, by narrow margins even though they dominated the territory and possession stats. The Boks had 59 percent of the possession and almost two-thirds of the territory against an injury-ravaged England team, but still managed to lose. They enjoyed similar numbers against the All Blacks in Pretoria, but also came up short.

The Boks were superb in the first half of both games but managed only 6-6 and 8-6 halftime scores against the All Blacks and England respectively. Their inability to take their chances in the opening stanza ended up costing them dearly.

Williams, who started for the Springboks when they defeated the All Blacks in the 1995 World Cup final, says they Boks have been too conservative in the opposition half in their past two matches — trying to suffocate their opponents with accurate kicking instead of using the territory to try to put pressure on with their talented outside backs.

“When we are not under pressure we play conservatively, and when we are chasing the game we want to play attacking rugby,” Williams told KweseESPN.

“There has been a lot of kicking in the opposition half in the last two games from the Springboks, despite being the dominant team. But they failed to put the opposition away by not being brave enough with ball in hand.

“We have the players and the temperament to do it. The Boks need to vary their play. They have scored some brilliant tries this year, but they need to create and take their chances if they want to win the World Cup.”

Williams, who will coach the University of the Western Cape in the Varsity Cup next year after helping them to promotion, was a magnificent wing during his time, scoring 14 tries in 27 Test matches. Four of those tries came in the 1995 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Samoa at Ellis Park.

Bryan Habana took ownership of the No. 11 jersey that the ‘Black Pearl’ had made famous, and he surpassed Williams’ achievements with milestones and records of his own. But South Africa now have two more blistering wingers whom Williams says could become great players.

Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’Bu Nkosi have set the international scene alight in their rookie seasons, with Dyantyi already being compared with Williams and Habana having scored six tries in his 10 Tests to date.

“The rookies have shown how good they are at this level,” Williams said.

“They are very young and all they need is a bit more experience and game time heading into next year’s World Cup.”

“You only get better and gain more experience with every Test you play. So far they have taken their opportunities with both hands and I’m very excited about them. They are very quick, and that is something you can’t teach a rugby player. But they are also dangerous steppers, and they have that ability to beat their opponent in small spaces.

“The hallmark of a great wing is taking those half chances, and to score tries most players aren’t able to score. Both Aphiwe and S’bu have that ability, and that makes them dangerous customers to face.”

Williams, though, says they have to work on their positional play, especially in the Springboks’ defensive setup.

The Boks have started to employ an outside-in, rush defence, which requires the wingers to make split-second decisions whether they fly off the line and cut off the space or stay in line and just look after the outside channel.

“Their positional play is maybe their only weakness at the moment — knowing when to come up or stay back on defence. The support play at the back is important, and as a winger you have to have a clear mind and concentrate for the full 80 minutes.

“The Springboks’ defensive system is all about high risk, high reward. The wingers play a major part in that. So, they have made good decisions, but they need to get a feel for that system. It will come over time.”

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