All Blacks scrum-half Brad Weber has admitted that the Springboks were “smart” in giving the impression that they weren’t going to change their tactics.
South Africa ended a disappointing Rugby Championship campaign on a positive note as they defeated New Zealand in an exciting encounter on Saturday, which will see them return to the top of the World Rugby Rankings.
The Springboks weren’t afraid to put the All Blacks under aerial pressure with box kicks in the second test between the two sides this year, but they certainly did attack with ball in hand far more than at any other point this year.
Weber was speaking about the Springboks’ change in tactics after his side’s loss to the reigning world champions and credited them for playing a different style of game than the All Blacks were expecting.
Brad Weber on the Springboks double bluff.
“The South Africans kind of switched it up a little bit on us, held it in hand a little bit more,” Weber said, via SA Rugby Mag.
“I don’t think [they caught us unaware]. We knew the aerial attack was coming but [they performed a] bit of the old double bluff, talking it up to the media and then coming out with something slightly different was quite smart from them.
“We were prepared that maybe they would try and attack a little bit more while also sticking to that aerial attack as well. They just probably got the balance right tonight.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 3, 2021
The Springboks find success thanks to adaptations in their game plan.
South Africa put in arguably their best performance of the season in their 31-29 win against the All Blacks, in a game where their backline were given far more opportunity to attack.
Jacques Nienaber’s side came very close to beating New Zealand in the first test between the two sides this year using a game plan that centred around box kicks and set-piece play, but they took a different approach on Saturday.
While South Africa certainly haven’t completely changed their style of play, they looked far more balanced in their final Rugby Championship match, and trusted their backline’s attacking ability.
There are surely more box kicks to come from Faf de Klerk in South Africa’s upcoming matches, but their renewed optimism with the ball in hand will quiet many critics of their often-maligned style of play.