Cape Town – Lions captain Warren Whiteley says that the Springboks cannot ignore their traditional strengths as they look to evolve into a more attacking unit.
Following last year’s World Cup in which the Boks struggled on attack, there has been a general acceptance that the way forward should seek to adopt a more ball-in-hand approach.
That is something that Whiteley and the Lions have spent the best part of three years working towards, and they are now South Africa’s most danerous and enterprising Super Rugby side by some dustance.
While Whiteley was reluctant to provide a blueprint for succes at the Boks, he did offer some advice on what had worked at the Lions.
“I can only talk from the experience I have at the Lions and I really can’t talk on international terms … I’ve only played three Tests,” said Whiteley.
“For us it did take a while but what was really important was the belief that you have in the system and in the style of rugby that you want to play.
“If you have buy-in from every single player, you’re going to make mistakes, but if you believe in what you want to do and you just stick to it then the improvement will come, the decision-making will get better and then over time … we’re playing good rugby.”
Whiteley emphasised that, even though they were looking to become more expansive on attack, the Boks should never forget their core strengths.
“You don’t want to veer away from what has made Springbok rugby traditionally strong – set-piece, bug contact, dominating the contact zone,” said Whiteley.
“But we all know that in South Africa we have skill-based players with fantastic talent who can pass left and right from No 1-15 and we need to utilise that as well. To get the balance right is going to be crucial.”
The Boks take on Ireland in the first of three Tests in Cape Town on June 11.