Despite criticism from the South African public, Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk are crucial cogs in the Springbok gameplan, which most SA rugby fans should get up to speed with.
This is the sentiment from most rugby analysts familiar with Rassie Erasmus’ aerial assault and defensive pressure system which has seen the Springboks grind out wins to make the Rugby World Cup semi-final, where they’ll play Wales on Sunday.
Speaking on the House of Rugby podcast, former England stars James Haskall and Mike Tindall, along with former Springbok captain John Smit, reiterated the value that both Le Roux and De Klerk offer the current squad.
You can watch the snippet below:
As we mentioned in our quarter-final wrap on Monday, the Springboks have made it clear that they will prioritise their defence over attack, and it couldn’t have been more clear in practice against Japan. Rassie Erasmus’ side is far happier without the ball than with it, using the opponent’s possession against them with some brutal defence. While the mindset could be a little more balanced, Erasmus obviously knows what his team is capable of, and he’s not going to try and force them into an uncomfortable strategy by trying to secure possession. The Boks are happy to rack up 130 tackles per game and grind a win, and while it may not be the prettiest of tactics, it works.
Further in the interview, Tindall, who played 75 games for England, praised Le Roux for his vision and playmaking ability on the field, and while he has had lesser impact in recent games, can’t be undermined.
“Willie le Roux is getting so much stick. He’s a genius rugby player. He hasn’t had the best 3 games, but when it counts, he’ll probably stand up and be a Man of the Match.”
Haskell, a centurion for London Wasps and who played 77 games for England, added that Le Roux often puts wingers into space, who then don’t capitalise on chances.
“Everyone wants a dream performance [in a World Cup], but if you get to the semi-final, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Everybody in pubs, clubs, and analysts will disect it, but at the end of the day, if you’re standing there with the trophy, no one gives a s***”.
You can watch the full House of Rugby podcast here.