Aussie backs giving Springboks sleepless nights

The thought of having to tackle some of the slippery backline customers in the Australian squad can result in sleep deprivation, according to Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis.

“I think as a tight forward it is the most daunting thing to play against Australia,” Du Plessis said on Wednesday.

“You know once or twice in the game you are going to have to defend against a guy like Quade Cooper, who can beat any backline player on his day, and a guy like Will Genia who can break the line and get the pass away.

“So as a big tight forward you get sleepless nights about that because you know one missed tackle can cost your team the game.”

Considering the Springboks conceded the least amount of points in the pool stages of the World Cup – only 24 points were scored against them – the fact that they missed 26 tackles (including half breaks) on average per match, points towards outstanding work in scramble defence.

Du Plessis highlighted that cohesion and trust were key ingredients to the team’s defensive system, which had shown drastic improvement since Stormers expert Jacques Nienaber had been roped in by team management.

“I think the challenge is to believe in the systems and to know that your teammates are going to be there for you because there has never been a game where nobody has missed a tackle,” he said.

“So the secret is to believe that the system will help if you make a mistake.

“Nobody makes a mistake on purpose, so there is someone who will cover for you – that is the beauty of team sport.”

Heading into Sunday’s quarterfinal in Wellington, the Wallaby pack had been criticised for their poor performance against Ireland, contributing to the 15-6 loss they suffered in their Pool C match.

For the big Sharks frontrower, however, that performance was not as bad it appeared to be to many outsiders.

“I watched the game against Ireland and quite a few of the decisions could have gone either way or it could have been a reset scrum,” Du Plessis said.

“I think the rub of the green on the day went against them a little.

“The Irish pack also played well on the day which the gave the impression they were under pressure, but I think the Australian pack has played well against all the packs in the past 18 months.”

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